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May 21, 2008


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We already have tickets to take Amtrack to New York on our vacation this summer. Gas prices weren't nearly as bad months ago when I was calculating the difference, so I'm sure we're saving even more now. Last summer we drove out to Yellowstone from Ohio. I couldn't imagine doing that now.

More people should consider public transit, and the government needs to encourage it more. Given the present economic and environmental situation, it is insane for us to do anything else.

Here in the DC metro area, it's actually costing my fiance more to commute using public transportation than it costs for me to drive to work (about the same distance). Especially since they keep raising the rates as the gas prices increase.

In the Los Angeles area, if I wanted to take the train, I would have to drive to a location, take the train, and then drive to work. It is not some place I can walk to. I have considered it but it would be a hassle right now.

I've been taking the commuter rail on my reverse commute through the Boston suburbs. Unfortunately at $3 each way it's more expensive than gas for my 32 mile roundtrip. However, if you count vehicle depreciation and maintenance (IRS deduction rate of $0.45 a mile), I'm probably coming out ahead. Where I'm really coming out ahead is the 2 mile bike ride on each end of the trip, there's a definite health benefit to have 8 miles of bike riding built into your day.

I am an avid fan of public transportation. It takes time to learn how to use it and it is not always an option. But once I learn what and how, it is great. You can read, sleep or just relax and meditate. And, yes prices are rising. In Miami, the price of a monthly bus-rail metro pass is currently $75 and just was proposed to go up to $100. I use it almost every day on multiple trips, so without my monthly pass, my bus-rail expense would be like $10 daily, for a total of about $300 each month.

I wish that I could drive less but public transportation in Maryland leaves much to be desired. It is possible to get many places by bus but the busses are rarely on schedule and rail coverage is pitiful. I'm sure there is still much money to be saved but the commute time would probably be doubled unless your from and to locations are near subway stops. That is pretty rare.

In my case, it's twice as expensive for me to commute to school using NJTransit. It would cost me approximately $130 a month driving (split between two people) versus the $150/person for a student (!!!) pass. It helps that I'm not driving an SUV getting 15 mpg but a small car getting 40mpg and costs are split between two people. It's still rather ridiculous that it's twice as expensive and a lot more time consuming to take the train.

Dealing with other people on transit can be a good thing; they can make you laugh, entertain you, aggravate you ... it's amazing the number of people I come across (even in a transit city like Toronto) who never engage with anyone in the city, beyond family and colleagues, all day. I'm a lifelong transit user (no driver's licence!) and wouldn't give it up for a sealed journey to work in my own little bubble for anything.

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