10 Cost-Conscious Commuting Options
Commuting is a large part of the employment equation for many people. Whether you need to hop a train to NYC or drive a construction truck into Omaha on a daily basis, getting to work needs to happen in a timely — and affordable — manner. Here are 10 commuting options that help keep your bottom line in check. (See also: 7 Easy Lunch Ideas for Work)
This mode of transportation is used around the world from developing nations to modern Western cities and practically everywhere in between. Not only can you save gasoline dollars if you bike to work, you’ll also receive a number of health benefits as well. It’s great exercise!
Powered by your feet pushing off the pavement every minute or so, scooters are certainly a money saver as far as fuel is concerned. While their lack of storage solutions makes them a difficult choice for those needing to carry items to work every day, they are very doable for those with a traditionally light load.
Electric, two-wheeled vehicles that can reach more than 10 mph meet nearly anyone’s definition of cost-conscious commuting. While riding a Segway might not work on rutted, muddy rural roads, it’s certainly a solution for urban commuters who only have a few things to carry and need to arrive in a business suit that hasn’t been ruffled by a sweaty bike ride. To be clear, these cost markedly more than bicycles. That being said, they cost far less than a second vehicle and don't come with the parking fees, gas bills, and maintenance costs. So if you want to get where you're going a bit faster and only want one main vehicle to use for traveling out of the city, this could be the solution for you.
If your distance from work makes riding in a car an absolute necessity, then carpooling may be your most cost-effective commuting option. The key is finding a group of considerate, reliable people who won’t run rough shot over your schedule, and who will be willing to do their part when the time comes. It’s nice not to have to be the one driving every day, and it gives you a chance to utilize otherwise unproductive time to accomplish other tasks.
Commuting doesn’t get more affordable than this. All you need is a decent pair of walking shoes. No tires to fix or chains to maintain. Granted, the walking option is more distance dependent than any of the others, but if you live within a workable radius of your place of employment, this could be your dream solution.
Many who live outside of urban centers take the train to work. Since many train routes come equipped with Wi-Fi these days, this commuting option is becoming one of the most productive as well as the most comfortable. Roomier seats and lots of lap room are critical for those traveling more than an hour to work for the man.
Hopping several different bus lines in order to get to work can get in the way of efficiency, to be sure. That being said, if you can score an apartment on the same bus line as your office, then you’re in business. Most cities have monthly transit passes making this option even more affordable.
If you’d rather not have to wait for the bus to stop at every traffic light and crosswalk, then selecting the subway may be your best urban option. It’s fast, it's cost effective, and it has lots of seating. As with the bus option, the more complex your chosen city, the more important it will be to live somewhere that requires minimal morning connections.
As with Segways, if you still have a need for speed, but don’t want to dish out for an expensive motorcycle, go for a Vespa or similar scooter. These motorized scooters are stylish, come with a bit of storage, and have fantastic gas mileage. You’ll need a helmet and occasional rain gear, but for city dwellers who don’t need to be on the highway, this can be an excellent commuting option. Also like the Segway, these cost markedly more then bikes but less than cars, and they are also a bit more practical to take between towns than a Segway. If we end up moving back to Europe for a while, Vespas are on our family's short list for transportation options. Two of them, even brand new, cost less than we'd pay for a decent used vehicle here in the States.
10. Fuel-Efficient Vehicles
Let’s face it. If you live any real distance from town and in the opposite direction of most of your coworkers, then commuting solo in your own car is about the only option you have available. If this is the case with you, then planning ahead is your most viable solution. Purchasing the most efficient vehicle available for your needs, finding a fuel-conscious route to work, and coordinating stops and errands while you drive to and from work will make a difference in your bottom line.
Other Savings Strategies for Commuting
More employers are becoming open to the possibility of flex jobs, where employees are allowed to work from home one or more days per week. This break in daily commuting time can result in serious savings. Not only will your gas bill be less, but depending on how much of a dip in vehicle mileage you’re able to accomplish, your monthly insurance tab may be reduced as well.
Also, certain jobs come with company benefits such as a corporate vehicle and a fuel allowance. This commuting solution is something to consider when negotiating for an employment package or contract renewal, or to ask for in lieu of a raise if company funds are limited.
What are your favorite strategies for getting to work affordably?