A little flavour of what's in store...

Friday, January 07, 2011

Public transport just doesn't make financial sense

My daily commute takes me through 40.1 miles of some of Derbyshire's most beautiful countryside (much of it through the Peak District itself) as I travel from Buxton to Derby. A round trip of over 80 miles a day.

However, with making the move so far from work - a journey time of just under an hour - I thought it only responsible of me to investigate public transport as a cost effective alternative.

Currently, door to door without any timetable restrictions is costing me just under £5 per journey (based on a cost per litre of £1.16) in my very frugal 2.0L, 10 year old mazda.

So first I looked at the train service.

First problem is there's no direct service between Buxton and Derby (and vice-versa). The best way to incorporate the train is to drive half the journey to Whatstandwell (on the A6) and catch the local line service from there. It's a 20 min journey and my office is another 5 minute walk.

The cost for the rail journey alone is £4.30 each way, which by the time I've driven half the journey adds another £2.50.

Next I tried the local bus service. Believe it or not, there's a direct service between Buxton and Derby. Although the journey time's an hour and a half, I'd still arrive in Derby 20 mins ahead of time (but there is a 20 min walk from Bus Station to Office).

Their cheapest fare option is a day super saver type ticket, priced at £10. This would include both journeys.

Now I know you're going to say "Yes but you've got other costs associated with a car - tax, insurance and servicing". Quite so but accepting that I still need a car at least once a week when I go 'off-route' to pick up my children or collect shopping, then those costs are pretty fixed anyway, regardless if i use my car to travel to work or not.

"Ah but fuel costs will rise" - again quite so but any major fuel costs rises will have to be passed on by Bus and Rail companies (in particular) in their own ticket prices (and very often their price rises have been well above inflation).

The positives for using my car are that I can travel door to door (Buxton gets lots of snow - do I really want to be standing around at a cold bus stop or railway platform?) and at exactly the times to suit me - when I get up and if I decide to stay late at work. Plus I won't have to be paranoid about missing a service or being late because a service doesn't run to timetable.

Lets forget about the rail option - I've never been a fan - especially since I learnt that it is cheaper to buy two tickets rather than buy one long journey ticket.. but I did think the bus service would give my car habit a run for its money.

Of course I've still got the bus option if ever my car isn't on the road or the weather turns nasty but for now, for me anyway, public transport doesn't make good financial sense.

Which is a pity.

If I had a motorbike and felt compelled to brave the cold and ride the thing, that would be cheaper still, but I don't.

What's your experience of the cost effectiveness of commuting via public transport rather than using your car (routine running costs not included)?

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