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Car vs. Bus: Who's actually in front?

By Lauren Leisk, Yahoo!7 Moneyhound Updated January 25, 2013, 8:00 am

Public transport costs increase whilst the cost of cars decrease, so which way is cheaper these days?


According to recent figures, high public transport costs are forcing commuters back into their cars.


In Brisbane,300 000 fewer public transport trips were taken in the year to June 30, down from 178.6 million the previous year when floods were blamed for falling numbers. Fares in the sunshine city have spiked, with the price of a single two-zone trip up more than 50% than that of the same journey three years ago.


In Sydney, the city commute by rail from Parramatta will cost you $4.80 a day or $1560 a year with bulk discounts. A bus from Bondi to the city is $4.50 or $936 a year. Over a five-year period, the Parramatta resident will have forked out $7800 for their 25km journey and the Bondi local $4600.


Related:How much to park in the city?


The car commute


The NRMA recently revealed its car operating costs for 2012. The study found the weekly running costs to the Sydney CBD by car can cost $280 a week.


From the northwest suburb of Windsor, drivers need to find more than $100 for tolls in their weekly budget to travel to the CBD for work. The study also found costs of commuting from Penrith were similar despite avoiding tolls.


Over a period of five years, the Windsor driver is $68,000 worse off than the Bondi bus commuter, and $65,000 worse off than someone catching a train from Parramatta.


Even one of the cheapest cars in the study, the Suzuki Alto, cost $174 a week when calculated on the 57km Penrith-to-Sydney trip.


Related:Are hybrid cars worth the cost?


On the cheap


The NRMA figures quote new car prices and take into account depreciation. So what about doing it on the cheap, provided you can find a decent commuter for around $1500 and pay no tolls, parking or insurance?


Most sources still bring the calculations to more than $4100 a year for the Parramatta commuter and almost $2500 for the Bondi resident. Over five years, the cost hits $25,000 and $12,500 respectively. It’s still more than double the cost of the public transport commute for both routes.


Related:How to beat rising petrol prices


What about the hybrid car?


The most popular hybrid is the Toyota Prius, with two million sold worldwide. It uses up to 50 per cent less fuel and cuts pollutants by as much as 90 per cent.


Depreciation is the factor to consider for this $40,000 green machine. If you go on to get top dollar for your five-year-old Prius you will still be out of pocket more than $20,000. After calculating on-road costs for the period, you would easily top the public transport commute price.


With so many factors to consider, the convenience of the car will always breed public transport sceptics. However, they could opt for a five-year-old hybrid car and try their luck. Without parking, insurance or tolls, and less exposure to depreciation, they may just edge out in front.


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