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Budgeting & Money ManagementLifestyle Finance

The Cheapest Way to Get to Work

By July 4th, 2023No Comments
Cheapest travel and train station

Travelling to work is something most of us must do with the time and ease of our commute playing a role in major life decisions. For example, we may opt to turn down an exciting job offer if the new office is too far away. Commuting also costs money whatever mode of transport we take, unless you are lucky enough to live a stone’s throw away from your office and walk every day. We often consider the distance to work, but do we think about the cost? In other words, are you overspending on your commute by choosing the wrong mode of transport? To answer this, we first need to look at the cost of public transport vs. driving.

Cost of public transport

Australia one of the cheapest countries in the world to take public transport. London, Vancouver and New York are the most expensive cities, with Brisbane being the only Australian city in the top 10. The below breakdown shows the average daily cost of travel in each territory for 2017:

New South Wales – There will be a freeze on costs until 2017 despite claims from IPRT (independent regulatory and pricing tribunal) that current prices are too cheap and therefore unsustainable. Adult opal fares capped at $15 a day and $60 a week.

Queensland – Now cheaper fares across the 8 wider zones, $3.20 per trip.

Victoria – Increase of fare cost by 3.9% in 2017. Zone 1 Myki users pay $4.10 for a 2-hour fare. Zone 1 and 2 users pay $8.20 for a daily fare.

Western Australia – Adult DayRider fares are $12.40.

Australian Capital Territory – MyWay adult weekday fares capped at $9.20 and $5.59 on weekends/public holidays

Tasmania – Urban adult Greencard daily caps are $9.20 during peak hours and $4.60 off-peak.

South Australia – Adult Metroticket day trip fares are $10.

Northern Territory – Daily unlimited travel fares are $7 for adults.

The government suggest the weekly cost of public travel ranges from $15 to $55. So, if we take a middle value of $35, our yearly commuting costs using public transport is around $1,820.


Cost of running a car

The daily ticket price for public transport may be cheaper than daily fuel consumption, but there are other costs we need to factor into running a car. Some of these costs include:

  • Loan Repayments
  • Cleaning the car
  • New Tyres
  • Servicing and repairs
  • Parking

The RACQ publishes annual reports highlighting the ongoing running and maintenance costs for vehicles that average 15,000 km a year. A snippet of this reports shows how much more a car can cost compared to public transport:

  • Small Car – 7,147.18 to 11,760.35 per year
  • Medium Car – Range per year $9,025.11 to $15,359.46 per year
  • Medium SUV – Range per year $9,600.15 to $15,802.08 year

Yet the public perception seems to be that driving is cheaper. A survey by Canstar Blue suggests that 59% of Australians think it’s cheaper to drive rather than take public transport, with 53% saying they’d take public transport more if it were cheaper.

Perhaps we consider driving to be cheaper as we don’t solely associate all the costs of running a vehicle with the daily commute. A family car is used for so much more including the school run and weekend trips. Yes, driving is more convenient but whichever way you look at it public transport is cheaper. So, if you are set on saving money this year, ditching the car and taking the train may be a good choice.

A final thought …

For those who are hell-bent on cutting down their costs, there may be a third option. Cycling to work is more popular in Europe but is fast on the rise in Australia. Buying a bike will cost you around $700 and the annual costs will be less than $300. Of course, there’s no air conditioning on a bike so a spare change of clothes may be advisable – especially in the summer months!

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