Being in the business of promoting ways to get around without driving alone, it was obvious to me when we were moving to the DC region that I would do my best to live close to my work. I wasn't willing to spend the additional time to get around for work, errands or pleasure and definitely wasn't interested in purchasing a new car. After reading an article from WTOP Commuting costs add up, depending on where you live I started thinking...do most people think about their commute in terms of time saved or money saved or both?
When I talk to people about their commute they often affix a time to it. Some people state the reason they don't walk, bike, take the bus, rail, train, etc is "I can drive to work quicker." But is that taking into consideration the total time from their home to their office front door as well as the time spent fueling/maintaining/parking a vehicle?
When the topic of cost comes up, it's common to only consider the cost of the bus/train/rail fare and not comparing it to the true daily cost that goes along with driving a car ie: insurance, gas, depreciation, wear and tear, etc.
But what if we looked at a commute in terms of money AND time saved? Would people be more swayed if it didn't take a considerable amount of extra time per day and they could save $5000 as referenced in the article? $5000 equates to an additional $416 monthly that could go towards a mortgage or rent. The $5000 savings was based on a two-car family cutting back to one car. Imagine if there was an annual savings of$12,296 by going completely car-free? That would be an additional $1024 monthly that could go towards rent or a mortgage.
According to the ACCS 2009 Resident Study (PDF, 2 MB, Adobe Reader required), 55% of Arlingtonians who work in either DC or Arlington take transit, pool, bike or walk to work compared to the 88% of Arlingtonians working in other jurisdictions other than DC and Arlington that drive alone to work.I would say there is a direct corrolation between where these people live and the mode of travel they use. Sure, they are probably spending more money monthly on housing than in some other suburbs or exurbs, but they are also saving a considerable amounty of money regarding their daily commute.
Taking this all into consideration, maybe that home closer to work and more commuting options isn't so far out of reach after all.
Wendy Duren, Arlington Transportation Partners