Monday, 19 September 2011

Riding the Rocket: Part 2

The cost of commuting is a huge expense for me and this is what I had to say about it last time.

So we talked about determining whether a monthly pass was a better option than paying for bus tokens. Unfortunately we're not done for the year. We actually have to calculate it for each month. Some months have holidays and February is short a couple days as well (this could make a difference depending on which days the month falls on). This requires good foresight in terms of what you have to do in the coming month.

I'll give you some examples. I start school September 12th and with a quick glance at the calender, I see that I missed 7 weekdays of the month. This leaves me with 15 days left. At $5 per day I have to pay $75 in tokens to get to school and back. This is a considerable amount less than the $99 I would have to pay for the post-secondary student monthly pass. Another month to consider is December, when we have winter break. Would it be worth it for me to purchase a bus pass? Using the TTC prices as an example ($121 for an adult monthly pass), one must have more than 24 round trips in order to justify getting a pass.

During the summer months, I worked full time at a place very close to my house. About a 5 minute drive away.  Rather than taking a bus everyday, I purchased a bicycle and rode it to work. The bike cost me around $120 so after the first month of biking it paid for itself since I would have used that money to get a bus pass. Instead I now have a bike to keep, save money for the remaining months, and I'm getting some exercise. Usually the first couple days it takes me around 10 minutes to get to work but by the end of summer I'm clocking in at around 6 minutes. Besides I didn't even take into consideration the wait time for the bus. This route is notorious for being delayed (but then again which route on the TTC actually runs on time? If you're from Toronto and take the bus, you know the joy I feel when I see those two eerily blue lights at the top of that box-shaped bus coming towards me with nobody on it - that always brightens my day...which is sort of sad) so I probably get to work faster on the bike than waiting for the bus. Moreover, we should take into account the fact that we are reducing the impact on the environment when we choose to walk or bike, so that's another bonus.

When I have tokens, I'm more reluctant to take public transit and try to find alternate ways to my destination such as walking or biking. It's probably a psychological thing because I see the tokens on the table and each one represents a ride on the bus and I feel like I need to conserve them. That's probably just me though.

There are times where taking transit it absolutely necessary especially if you do not have access to a vehicle. When there is hail the size of marbles are falling from the sky, or when it is raining so much that you actually consider wearing swimming attire to step outside, or when the distance you have to travel would make a marathon runner cringe, please just pony up the token. Those are the times where it's absolutely worth it to take transit. So try not to be ludicrously cheap, but be smart when spending your hard earned cash.

Oh and obviously when you have a situation where having a bus pass is justifiable, then go to town. Try and line up all your errands such as dentist or doctor appointments and outings and put them all in that month. In Toronto, the adult pass is transferable which means that although only one person can use it at a time, it doesn't necessarily have to be the same person riding the Rocket. If you know somebody who uses transit but has a different schedule than you, then you guys can buy one pass and share it for the month. That would greatly reduce the cost.

Some people may feel that this is a lot of work to save a couple dollars - plus it's a lot more convenient to use a pass, but we have to have the mentality that every dollar counts. Besides this is just some quick and dirty math - nothing more complicated than multiplication. You would be surprised how much money you would save in the long run. Also, if you from Leaf Nation, remember that there are tax credits for your monthly passes so save those things until tax season to get even more bang for your buck. I'm not sure if other transit systems have tax credits so look it up if you're not from Toronto.

If this how your transit system works? I heard in Vancouver you can backtrack so if you make quick trips you would only have to pay once (feel free to correct me on that one). Have you crunched the numbers to see if what your currently doing in terms of paying the fare is the most optimal?

-the Paperboy

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