Travel cost estimates misleading, accountant writes

Capital Region commuters getting a good deal on transit fares

Re: Higher ridership key to ending financial woes (Letters, Oct. 10)

As a chartered accountant, I find Mr.  Jones’ simplistic approach to the cost of a daily round trip for two by car from the West Shore to downtown is misleading. He costs a car trip at $3 for gas and $2 for parking. A more appropriate measure would include costs for gas, depreciation, maintenance and insurance.

Based on a 30-kilometre round trip and a 60 per cent use of car for commuter travel my calculation is very close to $16.50 per day. Add downtown parking at $10 per day and we have a comparative cost of $ 26.50.

By personal observation on this route, more than 75 per cent of commuter vehicles are single-passenger. So the meaningful cost comparison for the majority of commuters is $26.50 by car against $5 for public transit. Double up the passenger load and save $13.25 a day. That’s almost $3,000 after tax per year, to say nothing about reducing the Colwood crawl.

Even if transit fares were increased by 50 per cent, the regular commuter is still getting a great deal. Want to seriously get transit ridership up? Increase gas tax by at least $1 per litre, but exclude commercial vehicles.

The carrot of low-cost public transit on its own has been proven not to be a sufficient incentive in the Capital Region.

We need a strong disincentive for car usage that hits where it is taken seriously: the wallet.

I would suggest that if you work downtown, you could choose to live closer, as I did, in a smaller and more expensive house, saving on travel costs and time.

James McMillan

Victoria