It depends.

Our work place is in a high cost-of-living area (San Diego), and nobody lives within 12 miles of the office (mostly due to the high cost of housing).  Mass transit is available but coverage is extremely sparse- there are no direct bus routes and the bus has extensive gaps in coverage (up to 60 min between bus routes, even during rush hour).  As a result, most of us drive a solo car in to the office.  Some of us bike or go multi-modal (car + train/lightrail + bicycle) a few times per week, but in the end we all spend a lot on fuel getting us to and from work.

I have plenty of time on my trips to and from work to contemplate the cost of commuting.  On one of my recent commutes I heard a radio ad claiming, “If your car gets 20 mpg, buy a new Lemona and the gas savings will make your car payment for you!”.   I also went to the local San Diego Auto Show recently to sit in a couple of the new model cars.   Note that the Monroney (window) sticker shown above (upper right hand corner) implies the MPG will save you big bucks over 5 years. (Continue Reading…)