I’ve been commuting to and from work for the past five years, but in the past few weeks, I noticed that I’ve been thinking more and more about the benefits of me just driving to work. Maybe it’s my age (definitely not my salary) and the years of commuting bugging me down, or that I now live farther from work than the previous years, or maybe just the rains which makes commuting extra hell for the public. I’ve been thinking, what are the pros and cons of driving versus commuting to work? Maybe you are in the same situation, so here’s the list of things I consider. Share me yours.
1. Resources: Of primary concern of course is whether one knows how to commute and drive, and whether one has a vehicle to drive. For my case, I’ve been a commuter all my life and I don’t know how to drive (yet). Similarly, I don’t have a car to drive (yet). So opting to drive to work means I need to invest in learning how to drive and in having a car. Though modesty aside, there will really come a time that I’ll learn how to drive and I’ll buy my first car. The result of further deliberations below will probably affect how soon I will invest on driving and on my first car
2. Costs: The cost of commuting to work will be primarily on the fare paid for every public transport we ride on. Such costs of commuting usually go up when oil prices shoot up as well, but I’d say fare prices go up with oil prices less often. There’s this lagged effect of increasing oil prices on increasing fares. Cost of commuting is a bit hard to bring down though as there are only a few alternatives such as riding a bike to and from somewhere, riding in a cheaper mode of transport (jeep vs shuttle/taxi). Meanwhile, driving is outright more expensive than commuting. Driving is directly impacted by oil price hikes unlike commuting where there are some barriers still before it hits commuters. Aside from oil price, driving will include parking fees, toll fees, vehicle insurance, maintenance and repairs, registrations, MMDA tickets and meriendas, etc. If your family already has available vehicles, then some of these costs may be considered as sunk costs for your case, otherwise these are differential costs of driving. To help lessen driving costs, one can arrange for carpools so that one can get extra income and at the same time service those who need to go to the same area. Another will be to take advantage of parking discounts, free parking, namedrop influential and powerful surnames, etc. Still, this results to more expenses compared to commuting.
3. Time: Time is gold and is definitely precious. Time spent commuting vs driving is very much relevant to the proximity of the workplace or any other daily destination. There will be instances that commuting will be faster than driving while at times, driving will be a lot faster. So aside from the proximity, the route to the destination should also be considered, whether traffic flow is usually heavy in these areas, whether public transport takes a longer route (as stipulated in their franchise lines) while private vehicles can actually pass through peripheral roads and shortcuts, etc. The fastest way to cut through EDSA on a rush hour is via the MRT but getting into the station and into a train will still eat up a substantial portion of one’s time. Waiting in stations and queues is also a time constraint in commuting. Whereas for driving, it is basically the traffic jams, but aside from that, you control your time, pace and route. Driving can be an advantage for those who leave home very early, or go home very late. For rush hours though, commuting might still be more time efficient. Note though that if you commute via taxi or shuttle or bus all the way, and these vehicles are also subject to the same traffic faced by private vehicles, then driving can actually be more advantageous.
4. Effort: Two words: energy and appearance. I have no experience yet in driving but commuting is very draining, it uses up a lot of energy and effort that it can make commuters haggard and stressed early in the morning. It’s not just the effort used for transferring into different modes of transport, but also in terms of lining up, standing for the whole duration of the trip, the wrestling and mad scrambles, the vehicle chase, the smell (I hate the smell of sweat and body odor and mixed colognes and perfumes in my early mornings). The noise and air pollution. If you’re lucky, you might have the chance to grab some power naps on the road, but for me, commuting still requires more energy. Driving can also be tiring and stressful but it should be more due to traffic and abusive MMDAs or other drivers, but aside from that, you’re pretty much on your own. No foul smell, no pushing, no wet shoes and socks, no crumpled office attire. You have more choices of whether to eat, what music or station to listen to, etc. You cannot sleep though while driving (of course!), and coding days will require extra skills and adjustments.
So after much deliberations, it boils down on how much you value your resources, the costs, and the energy and effort involved, whether in driving or commuting. Well-off individuals will likely put a premium on convenience which means they are willing to pay more just to get the added comfort, peace and privacy of driving. Those who don’t have much money meanwhile, will definitely put more value on the costs to be involved, so they’d rather slug it out in public transports to save every peso.
And now I’m caught in between. Maybe I am in that phase of my life where I’m transitioning from being a hard-core commuter who wants to save on costs to being a driver who yearns for some more efficiency and less stressful ride to and from work. I wish I was actually transitioning to having more resources though.
Right now, the best option will be a mix of both worlds: join a carpool! You pay somewhere in between commuting and driving, but you get to relax (and even sleep) on the road since you don’t drive. No other costs to worry about unlike for those who own vehicles. Bye bye wet socks and shoes, and crumpled office barong as well.
PS: Wanted carpool from Montalban to Bonifacio Global City. Anyone?