To Drive or Not to Drive

So the other day I was driving home from work at Newark. It was one of those many days where thousands of drivers were helplessly trapped in the traffic, tapping their fingers on their car doors, and saw the Bart train swiftly passed by. We patiently sit there, not willing to scroll down our windows because all we would get is nasty smell from gasoline combustion from all the running vehicles surrounding you. Your foot mind-numbingly goes left and right from the brake and the accelerator only to wish you’re on that Bart train.

Having familiarized myself on the topic of carbon footprints this past week, it occurred naturally to me that I should compare the costs and benefits of driving to Newark on that particular day and time. I will be looking into monetary costs and time cost to make an immediate brief comparison between those two options

Driving

Round-trip distance: 64 miles.

According to Fueleconomy.gov, my vehicle averages 30 mpg (city and highway combined). The cost to drive 25 miles is $3.23 and fuel to drive 25 miles is 0.86 gallon, assuming fuel price is $3.75. Therefore, each mile driven cost me $0.129. The entire trip consumed 2.2 gallons of gasoline and cost me $8.27.

I am reimbursed $0.51 for every mile I drove. From there I would receive $32.64.

According to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle Factsheet published by the EPA in 2011 , every gallon of gasoline generates 8,887 grams of CO2. Therefore, the CO2 emission of my car per mile is,

CO2 emissions per mile = CO2 per gallon/ MPG = 8,887/30 = 296.23 grams
The number varies by the vehicle’s fuel economy and the carbon content of the fuel used.

So, total CO2 emission for this trip is 18,958.93 grams.
In terms of time, it was 84 minutes both ways. And on top of that, I would like to add an extra 30 minutes for traffic.

Public Transit

Round-trip Bart fee: $8.20.

Total miles travelled on Bart: 27.5 miles.

The company reimburses $0.05 for every mile ridden. That approximates to $3.2.

Whenever one uses the Bart Quickplanner, the site will show the amount of carbon dioxide you save from taking Bart instead of driving. That number for this particular Bart ride was 45.8 grams . 0.13 pounds of CO2 are emitted per BART passenger mile. Total emissions would therefore be 3.575 pounds (1,621.58 grams).

We also have to factor in the CO2 emissions from taking bus, that’s approximately 100 grams (from AC transit).

Total time on Bart = 96 mins. However, since the venue is not connected by Bart, I must take a bus from there and walk. That would add up to a total of 144 mins.

Drive Public Transit
Monetary Cost ($) 8.27 9.70
Time Cost (minutes) 114 144
Reimbursement ($) 32.64 3.2
CO2 emission (grams) 18,958.93 1721.58

Conclusion

  • Net monetary benefit from driving and taking public transit are $24.37 and $-6.5.
    Clearly, driving becomes a more economical option.
  • Time difference is roughly 30 minutes.
    Driving saves me more time.
  • Difference in emission: 17,237.35 grams.
    Driving emits significantly greater amount of carbon dioxides.

Takeaway

To drive or not to drive becomes a dilemma leveraged by our fiscal and social priorities and responsibilities. If I take out the reimbursement part, the single most important factor that determines the decision would be the fact that driving saves more time and avoid much hassle of transferring between different forms of public transportation. Compact urban city development where regions are connected by more efficient, time-saving public transportation network, would give public transit numerous absolute advantages over driving private vehicles. After all, I am sure the great minds of our country are doing their parts, continuously introducing new technologies that would make our world a better place to live in.

Sources: Google Maps, Fueleconomy.gov, Bart.gov