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The commuter conundrum: car vs. GO train

Last Updated Dec 1, 2017 at 12:43 pm EST

 

It’s a question we posed on social media — What do you prefer: riding the GO Train to work or taking your car downtown to work?

Not surprisingly, the question prompted an immediate reaction.

While many point to lifestyle factors and comfort as reasons for choosing one option over the other, it’s no secret that cost is also a primary factor for many commuters.

With that in mind, CityNews performed two case studies, breaking down the costs of taking the train versus jumping in the car.

For illustrative purposes, we made various assumptions and worked to find averages to find accurate comparisons. Precise situations may differ depending on age, vehicle and distance travelled.

CASE STUDY #1: OSHAWA TO DOWNTOWN TORONTO

Our first case study looks at someone travelling from Oshawa to the downtown core. If you’re working 22 days a month, it will cost you $355 dollars to ride the train from Oshawa GO Station to Union Station using a Presto card. That figure doesn’t factor in the cost of taking connecting transit. (For instance, commuters who hop off the train and straight onto the TTC would pay an additional $146.25 for a monthly Metropass.)

So what happens if you take the car instead? In this case study, we’re using a 40-year-old person driving solo in a 2015 Chevy Malibu.

According to ontariogasprices.com, you’d be spending about $220 a month in gas. We’ve estimated parking in the downtown core at around $250. Given the anticipated mileage of 2,640 km per month, Aviva Insurance ballparks insurances costs at up $152. (Note: Other considerations such as a poor driving record and at-fault claims can also impact that rate).

That leads to a total of $622 per month to drive back-and-forth to work.

CASE STUDY #2: BRAMPTON TO DOWNTOWN TORONTO

Our second case study looks at a commuter travelling from Bramalea GO Station in Brampton to downtown Toronto. Using a Presto card, you’d be paying $277.25 a month.

If you decide to drive, you’re looking at around $165 worth of gas and another $250 for parking. With a commute of roughly 1,760 km a month, Aviva Insurance quoted us a ballpark rate of up to $211.

That brings the total driving cost to $626 dollars.

Even though it appears transit is the cheaper option, Metrolinx says it is actively working to reduce the cost of GO fares.

“It’s a substantial cost, no doubt for people who chose to use transit. One of our goals is to get that price down,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins.

She says Metrolinx is in the midst of reviewing its regional transportation plan, with an eye on cutting commuter costs.

“We’re looking at all kinds of ways to make transit more affordable, more convenient and more reliable. All of those things are what make people choose transit in the first place, and cost is one of those factors.”

Still, for others, driving will always remain the more convenient option.

What is your commuting story? Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #CityCommute.