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Are Electric Scooters a Cost-Effective Way to Commute? Posted on

Electric rideables are growing in popularity and are now normal in daily commutes. Individuals are starting to ditch their car commutes and switch to ride sharing (Uber/Lyft), public transit, rental scooters/bikes, and electric rideables. Electric Scooter ownership specifically has grown as people find it is easier and more cost effective.

What is the true cost of your commute?

We will be looking at the true costs of each of these methods; Owning a Car, Ride Sharing, Public Transit, Rental Scooters/Bikes, Owning an Electric Scooter (initial costs, fuel, maintenance, depreciation) as well as other efficiencies. At the end we’ll have a better idea of how much we really spend on our commutes and if it is time to ditch the car.

infographic cost of commuting

 Vehicle

Monthly Cost Yearly Cost
Gas Car $705.75 $8,469
Electric Car $703.25 $8,439
Ride Hailing $101.82 $1,221.87
Public Transit $121 $1,452
Scooter Rental $140.83 $1,690
Buying a Scooter $40.4 $484.8

What does my daily car commute cost?

The first method of transportation we will be looking at is the good ole’ automobile. The car has been a mainstay in the American commuting since Henry Ford’s first Model T rolled off the assembly line in October, 1908. It is wildly convenient, making it traveling long distances at high speeds easy. Commuting by car is by far the most popular method, with over 85% of Americans reporting to have commuted this way in 2016.

Most commuters who drive to work everyday are driving gasoline powered vehicles. Gas powered cars cost the average commuter, in 2016, $8,469 a year. Where did this number come from?Electric cars are growing in popularity so it is worth considering the costs of these as well. According to AAA, a year of commuting in your electric car is $8,439. When you break this number down it comes out to $982 in maintenance, $600 for charging, and depreciation of $5,704. This exceptionally high depreciation amount will get lower as more electric cars enter the market and used electric cars become more common. The high price is mostly a function of how new these cars are. Electric cars have much longer life spans than their gas guzzling partners so, in the long term they can be a more cost efficient option. 

There are a few extraneous costs that make up a daily car commute. The first is the loss of time in a car commute. Some people have long commutes because they travel large distances to work every day. Many of us as stuck spending time on our commute because of traffic and congested roads. The average American commuter spends 27 min driving and this number is continuing to climb. As commutes lengthen we waste more time in that car that could be spent at work or in leisure. Another cost not included in this price is parking. Commuters may have to pay for parking at home, at the office , or on the street. Another cost many of us are familiar is driving citations, These costs are rarely ever expected but can make an already expensive method of transportation more so, whether it be an expired meter, traffic light cameras, street sweeping, or a slew of other violations. As mentioned before the cost of depreciation is another massive cost. Cars are meant to be investments but, they have very high depreciation rates, especially new. When looking for the most cost effective method, something that loses that much of its value, doesn't make sense. 

What does my Uber/Lyft to work cost?

Ride sharing and taxis have always existed but, we’ve seen a rise in popularity with the advent of Lyft and Uber. The accessibility and pricing of these services has helped consumers move away from traditional transportation methods. Lyft and Uber allow for rapid transit at an instant without requiring large investment into something like a car but, is it cost effective? Robert Farrington decided to ditch his car and start using Ubers to commute to and from work. What he found was that he was able to save large swaths of cash and time. Robert found that his 9 trips to/from work ended up costing him $91.64 a month or $1,099.68 a year (https://thecollegeinvestor.com/19174/uber-vs-owning-car/). If you add an additional journey to this figure, because the average commuter will make 10 trips in a week, you are looking $1,221.84, or $101.82 a month. At a glance it is easy to see that this method is a small fraction of what a car would cost. This price can be decreased further when riders take advantage of frequent riders passes. This may not  be suitable for every commuter but, most commuters in densely populated areas will find similar results. The other advantage to using ride sharing is that you are able to use the commute time for other activities. Whether it be catching up on work emails or reading a good book, the time spent in transit can then be reappropriated to other, more productive activities. There is the unfortunate cost of surge pricing with these apps, which will raise ride prices in the event of high volume transit times. This can cause unforeseen, additional costs. Another disadvantage is that there may not always be a driver available to pick you up. Long wait times are still common and these delays can really inconvenience your daily trips to work. Commuting by ridesharing is cost efficient and allows riders to reappropriate their time but, has some obvious pitfalls.

How much is it to ride Public Transit to work?

Public transit is a common and familiar option for daily commutes. Not the most attractive but, it is accessible in most cities. 1 way tickets can cost $2-3 but, for a daily commuter something like a monthly pass is more economical. In a city like New York a pass will cost $121 a month or, $1,452 for the year. It is very clear that this is yet another affordable option for commuters. Commuters in public transit get to avoid the stress of maneuvering traffic and spend that time otherwise. There are some pitfalls/costs to relying on public transit, the biggest being the rigidity of the schedules. Holidays and weekends generally have limited service, which affect the commute. Public transit commuters have to plan out their routes and be on time in their commute. The other problem with public transit commuting would be the cost for car owners. It is common to use a park and ride system where you drive to transit stations and then ride transit from that point. This ends up compounding costs, leaving the commuter stuck with costs of both car and public transit commuting. Public transit is a reliable and cost efficient methods but there are trade offs. 

What does it cost to rent a scooter?

Rental scooters came to prominence in 2018 with companies like Bird, Lime, Lyft, ect. You may have seen them magically appear in your neighborhood overnight. These companies operate much like ride sharing, in that the vehicle/ride is available to the public for a fee. Riders simply locate scooters in their immediate area using the app and pay based on duration of ride. The company handles charging, maintenance, and relocation by contracting individuals. Generally, the rider pays $1 to start the scooter and then a set rate for each minute ridden. The rate has typically been $0.15/min, but this rate has begun to fluctuate as popularity and scooter availability has grown. An average scooter commute would be 15min each way. Each day would cost $6.50, which over the course of a year commuting comes to $1,690. The advantages to this method are that commuters aren’t responsible for the scooter. 

They merely have to park it somewhere on the sidewalk and they are done with their commute. Rental scooters can be a fun way to get around, but they have some worrying disadvantages. Many cities don’t yet have rental scooters and cities that do have set service areas, which means they aren’t accessible throughout the city. The scooters are also used by multiple people throughout the day. Scooters may not always be available for commuters, fully charged, or in good working condition. Rental scooters are a great way to get around the city and from a commuting standpoint they are cost efficient for consumers but, it isn’t the most efficient method.

How much is an electric scooter?

Scooters are becoming more common in the streets . As rentals became popular the next obvious trend was going to be ownership. People try the rental scooters, enjoy them, and decide that it is worthwhile to own one. Why rent when you can own? Electric scooters, like the GXL V2, cost $300 with very few additional costs. Electric scooters are machines so they doz require occasional cleanings and maintenance, I budget $100 for this. The only additional cost is charging the scooter, this comes out to $85.8 for the year. Commuting on a scooter allows for the rider to move swiftly through the city but, removing obstacles like traffic or parking. The total yearly cost of owning an electric scooter and commuting with it comes to $484.80! This is a fraction of any other method that we’ve looked at! Not to mention that riding a scooter to work has to be the most fun way to commute.

What is the most cost effective way to commute?

We have looked at 6 different vehicles and methods for daily commutes. Each have come with their own advantages and costs. When looking for the most cost efficient way to complete your daily commute it is obvious that electric scooters, like GOTRAX Xr Ultra, are the best. They allow for rapid and direct commutes to and from work, but exclude the high costs of cars. There are many different scooters to consider, most being suitable substitutes for a commute. Furthermore there are environmental impacts of each of these methods. When we consider the effects of our commutes you can see cars are by far the worst. Scooters are quickly becoming a popular way to green commute

 

 


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