Tag: transportation

The End of Parking

You might’ve noticed on our Quarterly Expense Reports going all the way back to Q1 2015 that Marge and I have a monthly bill for parking that is almost $26. That’s all me.

Years ago, I was able to park for free when my office was in another location. But then we moved to Albany where parking is a hot commodity, so like everyone else, I started to pay for the privilege of parking my car. It’s taken directly out of my paycheck, almost $13 every pay day.

This was a bummer initially, because I had been enjoying free parking at our other location. Then, dangerously, I got used to it. I didn’t even think of it. Funny how recurring expenses quickly go from “burden” to “necessary.”

But now in our modern age of planning for Early Retirement, the parking expense has become harder to ignore. As I cut back on everything from pet insurance to newspapers, and from cell phones to rabbit litter, this one remains. Twenty-six dollars is not a lot of money, but in the land of eternal optimization, I am always looking to cut unnecessary expenses

parkingspace

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How Far Did You Commute? Our 2015 Commuting Methods By Mile

When you do something every day, it’s easy to lose track of how it factors into the big picture. That’s why so many people waste so much money on little habits. I wondered, what about commuting? How far did I commute this year, and by what mode?

Ever seen a Civic with two bikes and two kayaks loaded on it?

My preferred mode of transport years ago

Why, I commuted almost every day this year! By contrast, Marge didn’t commute at all. Unless you count walking the 60 seconds or whatever from our front door to her office as commuting. But she’s lucky like that. Most of us don’t live within shouting distance of where we work.

So how did I get to work this year? Through a combination of driving, riding a bus, and riding a bicycle. As I’ve said, during the winter, there is nothing more luxurious than getting driven to work by someone else in a pre-heated vehicle.  In my case, that’s a bus. But once the weather warmed up, I was able to ride my bike, Tad, to work. I tried to keep my car driving to a minimum of days when I had to be somewhere quickly either right before or right after work.

So how far did I commute in total? After subtracting holidays and vacations, I worked a total of…

237 Work Days

My commute is 11 miles each way. Take the number of work days this year, multiply that by 22 miles roundtrip, and you get 5,214 miles total!

What does 5,214 miles look like?

CommuteNorm

Starting in Boston’s North End (Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, if you’re curious), you’d have to drive all the way to Seattle, then south to Los Angeles, and then track back east to Texas, stopping just past Marfa in tiny Alpine to do my 2015 commuting in one shot.

CommuteNormBegin

Commuting just 11 miles each equals a 3/4 round-the-nation road trip every year! That’s 76 hours of continuous driving! Now doesn’t that seem like a hell of a lot? And I know many workers’ commutes are longer. The U.S. DOT says that the average commute by car is 12.6 miles each way. The average train commute is 12.2 miles, and bus commuters average 9.6 miles. So there are many, many people I’m sure making a nation-circling road trips every year just driving to work and back each day.

And I don’t know about you, but the prospect of a nationwide road trip is more appealing than driving the same 11 mile stretch of road 474 times.

CommuteNormEnd

Which method ruled the year?

Just to quench our curiosity, let’s see how I actually commuted during those many miles. Since I marked down every day I rode my bike to work, I know…

Bike Days = 60

Then, by dividing the total I spent on bus tickets this year ($312) by $2.60 (the roundtrip cost) I can calculate that I rode the bus on 120 days. But there were a few days when the ticket machine on the bus wasn’t working and I didn’t get charged. So let’s add three days and say that…

Bus Days = 123

On all of the remaining days, we can assume that I drove the entire way, so…

Car Days = 54

Bike Commute (8)I can drive door-to-door or take the bus door-to-door. But when I’m biking, I only bike 6 miles each way. I drive the first 5 miles to where I can park the car and then ride my bike on the nice, calm bike trail all the way to the office.

So if I do all of the multiplication out, I see that I used the following methods to get those 5,214 miles.

Bike: 720 miles
Bus: 2,706 miles
Car: 1,788 miles

That’s right, I rode my bike 720 miles this year, just commuting halfway to work. That’s the equivalent of biking from Boston to Toledo, Ohio!

CommuteNormColors

Green = Bike, Red = Car, Blue = Bus

Compare this to Marge’s commute. She walks to work. I measured her commute by stepping out the door a few minutes ago and walking to her office. I don’t want to say how far exactly it is, but let’s just say it’s much shorter than my commute.

CommuteMarge

Over the course of a year, she’s basically walked a grand total of 6 miles. That’s like walking from the north end of Boston to Brookline! You could walk her annual commute in 2 hours!

Well, that was a pretty clear demonstration of how even a short commute by car can really add up over time. The other question is cost. How much did my commute cost this year?

Bus: $312 
Car: $1,054 using AAA’s 59 cents per mile rule
Bicycle: $0. Since I replaced no parts on my bike, it was free. Clearly driving would be a distant third when it comes to per-mile cost.

So my total commuting cost $1,366, while Marge’s commute cost $0.

How far was your total commute in 2015, and how did you do it?

My Bike Commute

It’s warm again! Finally! I feel like I’ve been waiting all winter for it to get warm outside!

With the warmer weather comes my switch to bike commuting. I’m not a hardcore winter bicyclist. I won’t deal with the frozen fingers and toes, shortness of breath and stinging eyes. What’s the point? Especially when there’s a cheap bus that will take me the 11 miles to the office in warm comfort, letting me watch tv shows along the way. If I get six months of bike commuting in, I’ve got everyone in my building already beat.

More than saving money, I love biking to work because it puts me in a good mood on the way to work and back. I’m lucky enough that there is an off-road bike path that basically goes all the way to my office. My dirty secret is that I drive to the bike path, which picks up halfway to work, so I actually bike 5.5 miles. But once I get there, it is a peaceful 20-25 minute ride along the Hudson River.

Bike Commute (3)

I like to post the above picture on Facebook and complain about how terrible the traffic was during my commute, that there was a squirrel right in the middle of the path, or maybe I had to stop because some geese and goslings were crossing. That I got delayed a whole two seconds in this “traffic.”

It’s a pretty stupendous way to begin and end a day, especially when I compare it to the highway, which runs parallel to the bike path, but is typically clogged with traffic and lately has been partially closed due to construction. It’s a miracle more people don’t wake up, breath the fresh air and take the bike path. Being in a car and driving in commuter traffic has a way of making me hate myself. Still, I see very, very few people biking to work on the path.

So… let me introduce you to my bikes!

My old commuter bike

My old commuter bike

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Comfort, Style, Luxury – The Ultimate In Transportation

This is the last thing most people want to see when they have to get to work in the morning.*

Buried Honda (2)

My northerners know what I’m talking about.

The car is covered in a foot of snow, or worse, a half inch of ice. It’s 20 below freezing, and if you’re lucky, the engine will turn over and you at least can start heating up the car. Then you start shoveling the snow off and slowly chipping away at the ice. That might take forever. You start making a pile for the snow. Then you’ve got to dig out the tires. Did a snow plow shove a bunch of snow under your car? You’ll probably have to move that. Is there traction? Or did some snow melt and refreeze beneath your tires? You’re going to have to get some sand or salt to put under the tires to take care of that. You’re getting snow in your boots, pants are getting wet. Pretty soon your nose is running like a faucet, your face is red, and you’re starting your day angry and tired.

Not me, man. As of this year, I decided I didn’t need to put up with this anymore. I just wasn’t going to deal with digging a small car out of a plowed-in snowbank after every storm.

Did I buy a truck? No, of course not.
Did I buy an all-wheel drive scaredy-cat mobile? No way.
Did I move down south to get away from the snow? Never!

I decided to take advantage of a luxurious vehicle, driven by my own chauffeur, so I can sit in the back, drink hot coffee, read a book, or just watch television while someone else drives me to work through all the snow and ice.

I know. Not everyone has the means to have someone else drive them to work. After all, not everyone lives in a city.

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