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The Cost Of Commuting

by Stuart Shapiro

A while back I blogged on the cost of commuting to people in terms of reduced health and happiness.  Well if that didn’t convince you, how about the cost in dollars?  Mr. Money Mustache (great name!) has calculated the cost so you don’t have to:

Let’s take a typical day’s drive for this self-destructive couple. Adding 38 miles of round-trip driving at the IRS’s estimate of total driving cost of $0.51 per mile, there’s $19 per day of direct driving and car ownership costs. It is possible to drive for less, but these people happen to have fairly new cars, bought on credit, so they are wasting the full amount.

Next is the actual human time wasted. At 80 minutes per day, the self-imposed driving would be adding the equivalent of almost an entire work day to each work week – so they would now effectively be working 6 workdays per week.

After 10 years, multiplied across two cars since they have different work schedules, this decision would cost them about $125,000 in wealth (if they had for example chosen to put the $19/day into extra payments on their mortgage), and 1.3 working years worth of time, EACH, spent risking their lives daily behind the wheel.

And that doesn’t count the lost time with your children (if you have them) or the costs to society in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on the roads.  If you add this all up together, the investment in communities where people can walk or take public transit to their jobs seems like a no-brainer.

 

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart Shapiro Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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