When I moved to where I live now, I actually feel blessed in many aspect, but in particular related to commuting to work, because there is a train station nearby. Not just tiny little one, but a train station that services busy Westmead Hospital (so, most train will stop there). My wishful thinking is that someday maybe I don’t need to drive anymore. But I am still driving nowadays to go to work. What happen ?

Note May 2010: since this article is publish, NSW government has overhauled the pricing to give significantly lower and integrated ticketing system. See it here: MyZone.

Well, for one thing, my station of destination in Macquarie University was only finish late 2008. But this is not the major issue, as I can still take the last 10 minutes drive by bus. This is the situation:

  1. From Westmead Station to Macquarie University Station, the cheapest return ticket is the retail $10 which cost me $50 weekly for 5 days work. The weekly travel pass cost me more, $57, but it’s fair enough as it covers for 7 days and it is valid for ferry and bus ride as well)
  2. The time needed for above ride (from station to station, include waiting time for connecting train) is around 1 hour. Add this with 15 minutes to go to the station and another 10 minutes on the other side. Total time needed is 85 minutes 1 way or 170 minutes return.


Public Transport in NSW

Now compare the above with my driving:

  1. The distance between my place to the office is only 15km. So, 5 days return will make me travel 150km weekly. With petrol is currently around $1.25 (fluctuate between $1.10 – $1.40), how much is the cost of petrol weekly? Well, my 2.0 liters family sedan can travel 9km for every 1 liter of petrol. My small car can travel 15km for every liter, therefore:
    – Normal car: (150/9) x $1.25 = $20.83 ==> ($29.17 cheaper than train per week or around $1450 a year/50 weeks work)
    – Small car: (150/15) x $1.25 = $12.5 ==> ($37.5 cheaper than train per week or around $1875 a year/50 weeks work)
  2. Now let see the time. At the right of busy peak traffic hour on average it will take less than 1 hour either way. But working a bit smarter, by departing past 8.30am I can reach the office in less than 30 minutes. So, naturally I can only go back after 6pm and took me around 45minutes to go home. So, daily I will spend around 75 minutes for commuting to work. (That’s a saving of time of 95 minutes daily or 4750 minutes per year/50 working weeks) – 4750 minutes are equivalent to just almost 80 hours (2 weeks of working !!)

Who decide differently ?

So after describing the above situation, is there any sane person that still choose public transport over privately driven car ?

Not only saving almost $2000 a year (by driving private car) but also saving almost 2 weeks worth of working hours ! Yes, having a car induce some other cost like maintenance cost and insurance. But, will that cost beyond $2000 a year? No!…  But let say, it cost around $2000, you still well ahead with time savings and not to mention the freedom of movement you enjoy with your own car.

To give you another excuse, City Rail Service is quite notorious with not-so-reliable in term of punctuality and reliability of the train. So, using the service regularly, you would expect to see some lateness (that force you to wait to catch the next connecting train), breakdown and some other inconvenience such as have to stand (no available seat) and the fact that it’s quite jam-packed during peak hours (cannot really move).

So, until the travel time significantly less and the fare drops down to half, or petrol price shoot up 2x, there will be no economical and practical advantage of using public transport, well at least for my situation.

Check yours !

  • Note down the odometer of your car before filling up for petrol to get the average usage from your car (fill full tank each time , preferably from the same pump, to give more accuracy – do it several time to get better average)
  • Check the up to date fare on 131500.info website.
  • You can also always Google Maps to give rough distance between your home and office.

Happy commuting !