Research by Southern Cross University shows the average savings from leaving your car at home and taking public transport to work amount to $5,500 per year for Australian drivers. This amount is higher in Sydney and Perth, where drivers could save over $8,000. The average cost of taking public transport is about $1,600 per year (not including the cost of transport to, and parking fees at public transport facilities).
These figures show the high cost of running and parking a car compared with the low price of public transport in Australia. Considering the average income in Australia is $64,000, those who don’t take their car to work have a big advantage over those who do. Not having a car at all can double these savings. I am sure these figures are similar in other urban, developed countries where the price of petrol is not subsidized.
So why are the roads jammed every morning and evening? Mostly because public transport is only effective for those traveling to and from the city. If you have to drop children off at school, or if you have to go somewhere other than home after work (study, socializing), it is difficult to get good bus or train connections. Rush hour transport is also usually packed, it can be hard to get on to a train that is already filled to capacity.
I have been fortunate in always living close to my work, so I have usually been able to walk. But lately I have started to use public transport for city travel. It is less stressful not having to search for a parking place and not having to concentrate on the road. I can take notes while listening to an educational podcast. It also gives me a chance to observe my fellow citizens.
Cycling to work is an even cheaper option. But you would need to have shower facilities at your workplace, and live in a city with safe bicycle lanes. Even without being hit by cars, most cyclists eventually suffer minor injuries from this activity.
The research was funded by the Australasian Railway Association, which obviously has an interest in promoting public transport.