From Brian Lamb, Metro Transit General Manager
The American Automobile Association (AAA) published the first edition of “Your Driving Costs” 63 years ago. Gas was 27 cents a gallon, it cost about nine cents per mile to drive and the Interstate System wouldn’t exist for several years. In the 2013 edition of the annual report, AAA estimates it now costs 60.8 cents per mile on average to own and operate an average-sized sedan.
The well-known and authoritative report accounts for fuel, depreciation, maintenance and other driving costs (it does not account for parking though). At 60.8 cents per mile, driving an average automobile 15,000 miles adds up to $9,122 per year. Costs are significantly higher for SUVs, trucks and vans.
AAA has factored the average cost of fuel at $3.49 a gallon (up two percent from last year), but that’s not the only cost on the rise. Maintenance is up 11.3 percent, insurance is up nearly 3 percent and depreciation is up slightly as well. On all fronts, it’s getting more expensive to drive alone.
AAA also recently reported that $3.44 per gallon is the breaking point when it comes to fuel costs — that’s when 50 percent of drivers surveyed say prices are “too high”. We've been trending significantly higher than that in this region for most of 2013. You can check TwinCitiesGasPrices.com for current pump prices.
For an average family, transportation is the second highest expense behind housing. Changing how one gets around is much easier than changing where one lives, of course. Nearly 2/3rds of those AAA surveyed said they are offsetting rising fuel prices by “changing their driving habits or lifestyle”. Those with access to public transportation, especially those younger than 35, are choosing buses and trains more often.
Here are some examples of daily savings for households choosing transit. This table shows the average length of a customer roundtrip on each Metro Transit service type. It also reflects the average fare paid — factoring transfers, all fare levels and discounts for frequent riders using employer, student or other programs (Metropass, College Pass, Youth & Senior fares, Disabled Veterans, Job Seekers, etc.).
||Average roundtrip miles
||AAA est. car cost (@ $0.608 / mile)
||Savings per day
As you can see, real savings add up quickly for those who choose transit — even for a few trips per week. Factoring in parking, too, the American Public Transportation Association recently reported that a multi-car Twin Cities household would save $855 each month by living with one fewer car and choosing transit and/or other alternatives to driving alone.
Many of Metro Transit's customers can’t afford to drive, but a majority have automobiles and choose public transportation instead. Without our service, these families would be pouring more of their money into the gas tank and less into their savings accounts and our regional economy.