Is it cheaper to catch public transport or drive?

According to the ABS,

Expensive Public TransportWith there being 568 passenger cars per every 1,000 people, it is plain that Australia has a clear love affair with cars. Part of this infatuation may be cost-driven, with 59% of respondents to our recent survey stating it is cheaper for them to drive than it is to use their city or town’s public transport network.

Additionally, 53% of these respondents say they would use their car less if public transport was more affordable.

This was especially true in Queensland, 74% of whom feel it’s cheaper to drive than utilise Translink services. New South Wales residents are a little less likely to feel this way, with only 49% agreeing with the statement.

A Southeast Queenslander Blogger (in 2014) reported in an analysis of worldwide cities that Brisbane ranks near the top in terms of public transport costs. Oslo, Norway was reportedly most expensive ($5.47), followed by London, UK ($5.31). Brisbane rounded the list at spot #5 – just after Stockholm, Sweden ($4.26).

But since then, the price for an adult travelling two zones, using a GoCard (paper tickets are more expensive), during a peak period of the day – the hours between 03:00 and 08:30, and those between 15:30 and 19:00 – has dropped from more than $4 to $3.93. In NSW, your Opal card will get you around in Zone 1 for roughly $3.38 a journey. You’re still looking at close to several thousand dollars a year if you use public transport each day, but it’s a more reasonable price to pay (perhaps) than before.

Part of the problem of making public transportation more appealing is its accessibility. More than a third of our respondents have to drive to access public transport routes.

While driving is preferable to many Australians, nearly one in four respondents to one of our previous surveys utilise their metro train service as their most common mode of getting from ‘point A to B’ regardless. 11% of respondents predominantly use the bus.

While it’s easy to say that ticket prices are more expensive than weekly fuel costs, it’s important to remember some of the other costs of running a car, such as loan repayments, cleaning, new tyres, servicing/repairs, etc. When you add all these up…

  Light Car (e.g. Nissan Micra, Kia Rio) Small Car (e.g. Honda Civic, Toyota Prius) Large Car (e.g. Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore)
Cost of car $17,569 $24,949 $37,195
Running cost per week $147 $176 $246
Annual cost $7,624 $9,643 $12,943

Source: RACQ. Figures calculated as averages and approximations. Current as of 2014.

And that’s just some of what you’ll pay for a regular car’s upkeep. All things considered, driving your car into work is much more expensive in the long run. Keep this in mind before you decide how you’ll make your way across town each day.

Share this article