The cost of the commute

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 11:19 am

If things stay on track, when I return from my US trip I will be one of the many that commute to and from the CBD every day. This is quite a change from the short commute I had when I worked at Monash Uni for all of those years.

A few weeks ago I decided that it was highly likely that I would end up getting a job in the CBD, so I looked into what options there were and what they would cost.

Driving all the way is definitely out, and while long term cycling should be an option, in the short term I will commute via train. But even that has variations:

  • walk/drive to the nearest station which is in zone 2
  • drive to a station in zone 1
  • Early Bird – free travel before 7am
  • Myki money versus Myki pass (specifically a 33 day pass to cover 5 working weeks)

Others have already done some of these comparisons (eg Ways to save with myki) but I didn’t see the scenario of weekday only travel, no regular weekend usage.

For the scenario of traveling every weekday the weekly costs I got are:

 Zone 1Zone 1+2
Early bird morning, 2 hour afternoon$17.90$30.30
Myki 33 day pass (starting on a Monday)$29.04$44.88
Daily tickets$35.80$60.60

Committing to using early bird every day of the week does give the lowest cost at half that of daily tickets, but you need to be able to have an early start at work. The pass is cheaper than ad-hoc daily tickets, but not as much as early bird and you commit to the pass for five weeks at a time, even if you do not use it. If you cannot use early bird at least twice a week (three or more for zone 1+2) then you are better off with a pass.

As it happens I will have 7AM starts, so early bird is the go both for price and the flexibility for when I do eventually start riding at least some of the time.

That is the type of ticket, but what about the zones? It is clear that getting to a zone 1 station is cheaper for the ticket, but what about the cost of getting to the station.

There are three likely stations that I would use, with different timings:

 Home to stationStation to CBD
Walk to closest station (zone 2)1.3km, 15 minutes30 minutes
Drive to next closest station (zone 2)2km, 5 minutes33 minutes
Drive to zone 1 station8km, 15 minutes23 minutes

I’ll probably drive to the zone 1 station. Even though that would cost around $1.40 in petrol (compared to $0.40 to the zone 2 station) it still comes out ahead of the zone 1+2 cost and means less time on the train itself and I don’t expect there to be much traffic at 6AM.

Of course all this is just theoretical, what actually happens in eight weeks time might be different.

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