Analysis: Bus or Drive to Work

Well the car is back in my hands, but the repair costs have basically bankrupted my budget for the rest of the month. So I’m back on the bus, at least for the rest of the month. I’ve been wanting to do a cost analysis of getting to work via bus compared to going by car, so this is as good a time as any to do it.

I used to carpool with another person or two, but everyone in my area who worked with me has left the company, so I was forced to drive on my own. This is fine for a while, because sometime when I would leave on time the other guys I’d be driving with would be leaving much later, or if they were traveling I’d have to drive in on my own anyway, etc., plus if I had stuff to do in the evenings it was easier to get around.

However, fuel prices are notching their way up again (£1.08 per liter at the station down the road from my work, it was £1.03 at the same station not long before Christmas) and it cost me £60 to fill up my car yesterday at a station that had regular fuel at £1.05 per liter.

So here’s where the cost breakdown comes:

I drive about 160 miles per week on average to and from work, plus every other week I’m driving to my D&D gaming group. Driving to my girlfriend’s place is 180 miles round trip, and if I drive at normal motorway/highway speeds it takes half a tank. At reduced speeds of 55-60 mph I can get there and back in 1/3rd of a tank – and don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m not doing this, every single time!

So basically I can get about 400 miles per tank with combined motorway/street driving, so to drive every day costs about £60 per week.

I can catch the express bus by waking up half an hour earlier, walking less than 10 minutes and paying £18 a week. Then it’s another short walk from the centre of the next town to a friend’s house, where I catch a lift as he’s just setting off. After work, I can relax for half an hour while he’s finishing up, and then he drops me off at the bus stop, where I’m back home about 20 minutes later than I would be if I’d driven.

On Wednesdays my friend leaves work early, so I can either drive both ways on my own, or get a lift to work with him and take a total of 2 buses home, costing an additional £2.30 and about a 40 minute wait.

On the weeks I visit my girlfriend, I could take the train but it’s just as fast to drive and costs the same in petrol as it does for a train ticket, so that’s a wash unless you try to go totally car-free (which would reduce wear-and-tear, registration, inspection and insurance…but that’s a different topic, see below). So basically that’s about £20 in fuel, but average it out to £10-13 a week since we usually take turns visiting each other, and I tend to go up to hers more often.

So the total cost of bus travel to/from work is about £33 a week (£18 for the weekly ticket, £2.30 for the extra bus on Wednesdays and average of £10-13 for fuel to get to/from my girlfriend’s). Plus I get a bit of a walk every day.

If I couldn’t rely on my friend to give me a lift from the next town over, I’d have to get a local bus weekly ticket, which would be £14 per week, making the total cost about £45 per week, still a decent savings but I’d get home about an hour later than I do by driving, instead of just 20 minutes later with the friendly lift. At this point maybe the £15 a week extra cost is worth driving every day.

So there ya go – in money terms, I save nearly half by taking the bus, not too shabby.

Time-wise, I ‘lose’ about an hour a day, but I use that to listen to podcasts or read, so it’s not wasted time at all.

There’s less stress as well – I’m not driving (and I’m a shouty driver) so the only real stress is catching the bus, which is easy if you leave by a certain time. I leave the house by 7:15 to catch the morning bus at 7:33 (approximately) after a 7-minute walk – I could easily leave a few minutes later and be less cold, but I do NOT want to miss the bus, and they can arrive a few minutes early.

If you’re an ecowarrior, there’s a lot less carbon costs, etc., but I won’t get into that, everyone knows public transport is best in those terms.

Now as far as money goes, if I went totally car-free I’d save…at least £60 per month without insurance, registration and inspection costs, so maybe that’s something to consider more in the future. I guess if you add all that up it’s worth thinking if £2 per day (plus fuel) is worth having a car, especially in an area where public transport is that easy to get around. Sometimes it certainly is! but I suppose if the car is sitting on the street 5 days out of 7 it ought to be considered. In any other major city like Manchester, London, Leeds, etc., owning a car makes even less sense.

I think that about covers it!

Back from Spain! The rotten shark was fine.

Yes, I’m back from a weekend trip to Spain for a race my company set up.

Pictures soon, including the Icelandic rotten shark I enjoyed with plenty of brennivin. It was the latest I’ve stayed up in a long time, the most I’ve drunk in a long time, and the strangest collection of characters I’ve been around in a long time. A few Scots, a Finn, a German, a couple of Estonians and several Icelanders.

Yeah…I was pretty rough the next day.

Off to Spain this week

It’s not a holiday unfortunately, it’s for work (model car race), but there will at least be free food and such, plus a prize presentation in the hotel bar at about 1 AM Saturday night! Plenty of opportunity for international incidents, which is not the fun part, but the race (a 12-hour off-road endurance circuit race) should be good to watch.

Now I just have to find my Nintendo DS Lite and something to read for the plane trip!

Another McKinney in the news

And no, it’s not me…

This woman who cloned her dog to get 5 puppies has been fingered as the woman who escaped justice in England after hiring an investigator to track a Mormon missionary, kidnapping him and raping him repeatedly.

She jumped bail in the UK then tracked the same guy down again, jumped bail on that and was then accused of harassing some woman, and jumped bail again!

Great job keeping that family name up in the air! I’m sure the clan doesn’t need this kind of publicity.

My international television debut

I was on the most recent show of RC Racing TV, the last in the current series. This is a monthly show that features only radio-control cars, and I was on there talking about a race series that we’ve organized across Europe. If you want to see me TV-faking tons of interest and talking about my company’s 1/5 scale (30 inch long, 40mph) radio-controlled dune buggy, go to this page, hit ‘play’ on the video bit and let it load up to 9:30 on the video timeline. Like most people, I hate the way my voice sounds on audio, but the bit came off well I think.

This was my first time on international TV.

Pro computer gamers

Check out this professional computer game player competition, where the pro’s play Starcraft to earn loads of money and fame (at least in Asia).

I don’t know anyone who still plays Starcraft, and there’s even Starcraft 2 coming out this year…but I just can’t believe that this stuff is televised in Korea, with audiences and (apparently) mega-stardom for the top players. It’s just crazy!

Quite a bit to do this week…

I’ve got a day and a half of holiday to take for the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and I’ve got to get a few things sorted out, since we’re camping out not far from the Goodwood estate:

  • wash out the mini-BBQ grill and get it ready to go
  • make sure the el cheapo gas canisters I bought fit the el cheapo gas stove I got a while back
  • get all my clothes together and try to balance them between looking good and being trekky-comfy
  • hope I can withdraw enough money to cover fuel and food while we’re down there
  • test out the ‘miracle ice’ stuff we got over the weekend
  • make sure my electric tire pump will fill the double air bed
  • test-assemble the tent I’m borrowing
  • and finally, pack the car on Thursday before we go!

OMG the American-ness is overwhelming

Of the folks I know that interested in home protection, most just keep a baseball bat or an old golf club next to or under their bed. But if you REALLY want to know how you can keep your double-barrel 12-gauge handy, check this out!

I’m still on the lookout for a wooden baseball bat to have around. It’s just…classic. Since I’m in England I’d be happy with a cricket bat – the scenes in Spinal Tap with their manager smashing up an office are too funny NOT to want to replicate 🙂