Be Frugal and Use Public Transportation

by · 23 comments

I’m in Canada and my grandfather is doing better now even though he will still be in intensive care for another few weeks.  It is a sign of relief for the whole family and hopefully it’s nothing but good news from here on out.

Every day, we have a 35 km (approximately 22 miles) ride to the hospital.  We did some calculations and we are literally spending $20 on gas (our car in Canada still wastes tons of gas) and another $19 on parking every single day.  Since it is a full day event, we leave approximately 9am and leave around 5pm.  So the rush hour traffic was not helping make it any faster nor cheaper.

Today, we decided to take the subway from now on.  We figured that the expense would be as follows considering that we have to drive to the subway station:

  • $2 gas for driving to the subway station
  • $5 parking (to park our car there)
  • $16.50 (two way fare for 3 people)

This means that we will save $15.50 per day, not to mention that we don’t have to waste our energy to drive in traffic.  Too bad there’s no way to ride the bus to the subway station since we would save even more money.  In our case, it might even be faster than driving the whole way since Toronto traffic is EXTREMELY bad during rush hours.  It’s very surprising to me since I live close to Los Angeles and I’m used to traffic.

So to save money, energy and time, be frugal and use public transportation.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • RW-in-DC says:

    The question to ask yourself is: Does public transportation take me where I want to go? I’ve lived in the Washington DC area for more than 30 years and I would point out that the PT experience *DEPENDS GREATLY ON THE JURISDICTION*. E.g., Prince George’s County, MD has very little bus service, even to the county seat, Upper Marlboro. Yet, “next door” Montgomery County, MD has excellent bus service. DC itself is also pretty good as well as Arlington County, VA.

  • Elsa says:

    I am female, 62 yrs. old and recently moved into a 55 and older community where almost everyone has one or two cars. I have none. Never driven. There is a bus right outside the complex that I take every day to go work. I have no intentions of purchasing a car now as some have suggested I do. I rely on public transportation or a cab occassionally. I am reading everything I can on being frugal in retirement. I have always taken public transportation here in New York.

  • MoneyStreetSmart says:

    Great points. Yes, it can be a pain in the ass with inclement weather but the pro’s still far outweigh the cons. For anyone who asks me why I don’t own a car, it’s not because I don’t want one, it’s because I don’t need one. I take public transit when I can, sometimes splurging on taxis for speed or time sensitive issues, and when I need to travel a far distance, I can rent a car easily and affordably. It also makes you more “wordly” in my opinion so when travelling, you can access other cities public transit and use it comfortably.

  • Shane says:

    In my city they have a free bus, So I bike to my bus stop and then load my bike and can ride anywhere that is too far to bike, or too cold.

  • Shane says:

    In my town there is a free bus in the city, so I bike a lot and ride the bus for farther away places. You can also take your bike with you on the bus.

  • Jazzamerican says:

    For 4+ years I drove 7 minutes to the train station to catch a NJ Transit commuter train; 3 stops and a two block walk and I am at my job. I moved in December. Now my drive is 20 minutes to the same train station, but come April, I plan on taking a bus two blocks from my house then transferring to a light rail to the same end point terminal.

    With the train, my monthly train pass cost $156.00 + monthly parking lot fee ($40.00) + gas. With my new commute, my bus pass will be $72.00 and that is it. Plus, I get home 15 minutes earlier (even with two connections).

  • MW says:

    I live in West LA and my office is in Downtown LA I take one bus the 733 to my office and back home and I love it. To park downtown I would pay $5.00/day (and if they are filming it goes to $8.00-$10.00) and on the bus I pay $3.00 roundtrip and my commute time is 30-45 minutes depending on the time of day. I only fill up my gas tank every 2-2.5 months now and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love public transportation.

  • Pamela from Florida says:

    I live in the Tampa Bay area. You would think that the public would demand public transportation since this area is so touristy, but one has to wait forever at an uncovered bus stops (heat / rain), and Governor Scott will not allow this state to build a rail system. Auto insurance is very expensive here, because the chances of getting into an accident – especially on US 19 are so great. The costs associated with maintaining a car and putting gas/oil in a car are also high. I wish everyone would write to Governor Rick Scott and tell him that Public Transportation is needed, and that some people rely on it in order to get to work.

  • rpb says:

    The problem with public transportation around the country is it is inconsistent. We live in SoCal, where the automobile is king, and public transportation moves only on major thorofares, sometimes many blocks from each other. We’ve traveled in such great places for public transportation as Boston, NYC, Chicago, inner-city San Diego and Washington D.C., as well as in not-so-convenient places like Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, and Memphis (although some are more convenient than others). We’ve learned that convenient does not mean clean (or even safe, and especially comfortable), and that the open expanses of the Southwest do not translate well into convenience.

    It does not help that drivers are often surly, nighttime stops are often (usually) poorly lit, fellow-passengers are often drunk and loud and unpredictable, seats are uncomfortable or (worse) filthy (we always carry hand sanitizer and several small packs of tissues for those moments when we cannot avoid those places….fellow-passengers often ask, “Um…can I borrow some of that stuff? ’cause that’s a good idea”–we never decline, since it benefits everybody), and if you need law enforcement you can forget it (the Metrolink connections in SoCal are, by and large, an exception to that).

    I agree that frugal should consider every option, but sometimes it is safer, cleaner, and more convenient to spend the money.

  • intelliwoman says:

    I DESPISE public transit. It is expensive (I pay $175 a month but monthly passes for farther suburbs go over $200), it is dirty, uncomfortable, crowded, unreliable and dangerous. If I could I would drive every day.

  • Liz says:

    I lived car-free in Boston for 9 years. I took public transit (the T) everywhere.

    As gas prices rose, more people discovered the T. Unfortunately, the more popular the system got, the less reliable it got. Some things, like locking bus windows in the summertime (whether or not the AC worked), or trains running hours late, with no AC, in July 2008 (when gas was $4.15/gallon), made me wonder if the Powers That Be were deliberately trying to discourage people from riding.

    February 14, 2009, was a snowless winter night. I got out of work at 11:30 pm. My 11: 45 bus arrived 45 minutes late, for no discernable reason (clear roads, no snow). Then the driver decided to take a long, long break at Harvard. Busses are supposed to wait at the last station for the last subway to pull in, but Harvard was not the last station on the route. When the bus finally pulled into Sullivan Station at 1:45 am, all of the busses were gone. I hailed a cab, which was pulled over by police 10 minutes later. By then, I was close enough to walk home, so I did.

    I arrived home at 2:30 am. It literally took 3 hours to travel 6.5 miles. I could have waked home from work and arrived sooner. That night, I gave up on the T for good. I bought a car as soon as I could afford one.

  • Thrifty Gal says:

    I live in Chicago where public transit is a fact of life. I don’t even own a car; if I did, parking downtown (where I work) is about $10 a day. And parking in my neighborhood is a nightmare. A monthly transit pass (unlimited rides) is $86; I buy mine using pretax dollars (work benefit), so it’s only $64.50 per month. Another advantage to transit is you can read while traveling; please don’t do this if you are driving.

  • heaps! says:

    I think it is best to use public transportation. Especially if you live in a city that provides plenty of access to public transit. I myself am from NYC and there really is not much of another option for me to get to either work or school. Rush hour traffic is horrendous everywhere I’m sure, and with public transit it is more predictable so you probably will have a less chance of being late.

    Also, with public transit you have less stress to deal with. I myself would personally not be able to sit behind a wheel honking at the hoards of cars in front of me. It also allows me to either do work or sleep on the bus or subway.

    And even it has been mentioned before, it is important to emphasize the fact that it is environmentally friendly, and it leaves us less dependent on foreign oil, making it better for the economy.

    Yes I’m selling public transit, but only for good reason.

    Great post, Cheers.

  • Miguel @ Great Stops says:

    Smart move. The big thing is that you actualy acted on this. I know a lot of people who relalize that the can save money by using public transportation, but refuse to use it because they think it is “for other people”. I think public transportation is a great way to stretch your dollar and take stress out of your life. No rush hour traffic. 🙂

    • celmira9 says:

      You are right. I have lived in New York more than 30 plus years and always took public transportation to go everywhere. Now, nearing retirement, @ 61 years of age, I still do. You should see us commuters running up escalators when we hear the train roaring into the station and we don’t want to miss it. I am fit as a fiddle exercising running up and down stairs and escalators in the NY subway. I will miss it when I move to my beloved Panama where it is warm and cost of living is much lower. However, I will continue to run and exercise. Love it!

  • Andrew @ Financial Services says:

    I’m all for public transport but I think having your own vehicle has it’s own advantages. It all depends on your lifestyle.

    Public transport pros:

    You can sleep during the trip.
    You won’t get tired driving.
    You can help lessen emissions.


    Terribly inconvenient when there’s bad weather.
    You can carry and leave stuff in it.
    Relatively much more comfortable.

  • Roy Moussaieff says:

    We at provide transit planning. In our planning, we take scenario’s similar to your’s to provide intelligent routes that help travelers cut down on time & money.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Early Retirement: I’ve been thinking about riding the bike. I should seriously consider this for next year.

    Money Blue Book: I think many people in cities take public transportation because of traffic too. It ends up being more predictable even though it’s slower right?

    Emily: It’s definitely more green.

    Arjun: We are actually pretty north so it would take us forever just to get to Finch station. That’s why we take the 404 down to Finch station.

    Fiscal Musings: I think once I get used to public transportation, I will use it all the time. I love my car but it’s not a must have if I can ditch it to save more money.

  • Fiscal Musings says:

    I’ve done both. I usually drive myself everywhere just for convenience, but every once and a while I’ll use public transportation. It depends on the situation I suppose.

  • Arjun says:

    Hey, nice site. Just checked it out today, but looking forward to seeing what else I could find. Just wanted to mention that you CAN take the bus to the subway station. Almost every station has buses leading to them. Since you mentioned that you’re in Toronto at the moment, check the It has the routes and directions to get to where you want. Hope that helps, and also that your grandfather gets better.

  • Emily says:

    I am from Asia and used to take public transportation daily. I think it’s a good way to save your time and money, not even mention how we can save the earth. : ) Good sharing.

  • Money Blue Book says:

    Yup, already there. I’ve been a lifelong public transportation commuter..not by preference really. It’s just impossible to drive through rush hour traffic.

  • Early Retirement Extreme says:

    Great advice. I would ditch the car in a heart beat if it wasn’t for DW. For shorter distances ( 10 miles), bicycles are great. For even shorter distances (1 mile), walking works.

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