With gas prices 43% higher this year, it pays more than ever to take CTA

Most of you reading this no
doubt are public transit friends these days (note I didn’t say CTA friends,
Scooter).  And now that gasoline prices have increased almost 43% from a year
ago (Tribune report), public transit should have many new pals.

gas price sign.jpg

Here are the stark facts on gas prices, and why using the CTA makes more financial sense than ever.

Price of a gallon of gas in May of 2010: $3.13
Price of a gallon of gas in May of 2011: $4.47

Price of one CTA L ride in May of 2010: $2.25

Now let’s look at the price of a typical commute of 20 miles round
trip – roughly the distance from Howard to State and Lake on the Red Line.

Assumptions for driver: she owns a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon.

In 2010, that daily round trip cost $3.13 for gas alone, excluding parking, insurance and maintenance.

In 2010, a month of 20 round trip commutes cost $62.60.

In 2011, that daily round trip cost $4.47 for gas alone; it was $89.34 for 20 round trips.

Now, let’s look at the cost of that same trip on the CTA.

Chicago Card Plus.jpg

The price is the same in 2011 as it was in 2010: $4.50 for a round trip. That’s 3 pennies more this year for a CTA round trip this year, but $1.37 more on CTA a year ago – excluding parking, insurance and maintenance.

However, when you factor in the price of a 30-day CTA pass vs. 20 round trips in a car, now you’re saving $3.34 per month on the CTA, plus the price of parking at least. That’s roughly $200 to $250 per month downtown.

Bottom line: It pays more than ever to ride the CTA rather than drive a car.

I gave up my car two years. I’m so glad I did.


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  • http://thisisnthappiness.com/post/5163152802/freedom

  • I don't drive downtown, but CTA riders have to figure such things as the psychic cost of watching wankers and panhandlers, time lost due to buses that don't stop or derailed trains blocking the path, cleaning costs if you sit into a urine soaked seat, the cost of a replacement iPhone, etc.

    Anyway, if it is such a good deal, and if gas prices stay up here (the prices are back to 2008 levels, but no indication yet if the October 2008 crash will repeat itself too), CTA riders should be willing to pay a fare increase in 2012. Quinn won't be able to buy your votes with another RTA loan deal, because the state doesn't have the money (and it still hasn't been indicated whether it has made good on this deal).

  • ... And there are plenty of hassles that drivers face that I didn't mention: road construction, traffic jams, etc.

    I do agree CTA riders should accept a modest rate increase.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/notarealphotographer/5638899089/in/photostream

  • In reply to Nirvana911:

    It's that everlasting belief in the "tank of freedom" that sees transit being defunded just as we need it most. Thanks for posting the link to this wondrous photo.

  • Jack, redlining back to Edgewater at 2 AM with a masturbating homeless man glaring at me was the first time I felt like a true Chicagoan after my move from rural Iowa. Also, now whenever my old roommate calls, the ringtone is a video of a scraggly old weirdo chokin' the chicken and screaming about property rights. Couldn't get that many places.

  • In reply to TylerMGuth:

    Priceless. But, for everything else, there is [I'm not inserting the plug].

    There is, of course, the official video of the guy with the multicolor sweater shooting into a bus. Sort of a high cost for one rider.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, we could go on and on in this vein.... There's the truck driver shooting victim of road rage...

  • Neither solution is perfect. But when it comes down to it, Im glad that I have the option to not own a car that drained my bank account, caused me more stress and was really more dangerous than the CTA. Of all the ways you can die in the USA, the most likely way is in a car. The fact is that Gas prices will probably not drop very much even if the economy somehow miraculously becomes healthy again, and they really shouldnt. Rather than a rate hike, Id like to see HIGHER gasoline taxes which would be then have to be spent on transit improvement and expansion.

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