#94 Getting Around Is So Expensive

Thanksgiving Monday. We planned to run lots of errands around the city. Starting with a doctor appointment. My wife has a monthly pass so she went on ahead. I walked to the subway station to buy a Day Pass first and met her there. It was a 20-minute walk, but it's ok.... doctors are slow, we still waited for another 45 minutes after I arrived.

After the doctor, we went to Bed Bath and Beyond, Marshall's, Canadian Tire, Muji, Umbra, and The Bay in search of the perfect towel rack for our new house. But sadly we were unsuccessful. My wife, however, found a nice pair of gold Sam Edelman shoes for work. It was about time she bought a new pair of shoes, it's been over half a year since her last shoe purchase, and those were walking shoes.

Getting Around Is So Expensive

Buying a Day Pass cost me $12.50. With each beep of my Presto card, I'm charged $3. The Day Pass is only worth it if I make at least 5 trips. I made 6. Winning! 

Street Car

Last week, I opened a Zipcar account and today I reserved our first trip for tomorrow. A 2-hour trip is going to cost about $26. We are going to IKEA to return an oversized mirror, and hopefully come back with the perfect towel rack. If we don't, this trip is not going to be worth it. 

I Need To Get Over The Cost of Transportation, Don't I?

I used to have a monthly pass which cost $130 a month. I find that I am perfectly happy paying for transportation or anything else up front and having unlimited use and access. This is because I think I can get better "value" by using the service more than I would if I paid per use. And often that would be the case. One instance where this is probably not true is All You Can Eat... My stomach isn't as big as it used to be.

Now that I DO NOT have a monthly pass and I have to pay $3 for every trip, I am constantly flustering myself. I have an internal debate every time I'm trying to get around the city. Should take a streetcar or bus 4 blocks or just walk/bike it? This is becoming a serious problem. 

Remember the mirror we are returning to IKEA. Last weekend we carried that mirror on the bus all the way home. It was an hour on two shuttle buses, a subway, and a bus, plus about 10 minutes of walking. Worst idea ever. Imagine a couple each carrying a 2 ft wide by 3 ft tall mirrors down the street. Sometimes you just have to pay for transportation. That's why we signed up for Zipcar.   

While you should try to save where you can, you should not inconvenience yourself this much to save a few dollars. 

The Zipcar should help us save a lot in comparison to owning a car, and still give us the flexibility and convenience of a car. I will report back on if it's lifechanging later this week after our first trip =)

How Can You Save On Transportation? 

If you own a car, on average it's costing you $30 a day. That's about $10,000 a year. This includes the cost of the car, parking, fuel, insurance, and maintenance. If you are fortunate to live in an area with decent public transportation and bike lanes, and car-share services, then you have plenty of options and reasons not to own a car. This is where you can save relative to that $10,000 a year. 

The bike share program in Toronto costs $100 a year or $50 a year when you sign up with your Presto card. 

A monthly bus pass costs $134 if you commit to a 12 month period or $146.25 if you buy month to month. For a year that comes out to $1608 or $1755. 

A Zip Car membership is free if you commit to a minimum monthly usage of $7. If you use a car for 4 hours a week that's about $55 a week or $2860 per year.

This combination of transportation comes out to $4715 or about $5000 if you use the car a little bit more than 4 hours a week.

This is half the price of owning a car. You lose some convenience, but you save $5000, you probably will get a ton exercise and steps every day by walking and biking and chasing down buses. And you don't need to worry about your car all the time.

I understand it is hard for those of you that already own a car and are used to the convenience, but I also owned a car for many years and now that I live in Toronto I have not owned a car in nearly 5 years. In a way, it restricts how far you can travel away from home, but at the same time, it's liberating on your time and enjoyment of life to not have to worry if your parking is running out of time.


Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something Chartered Financial Analyst. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.

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