Bus Pass or Arithmetic Comes to Commuting

Given I am now the Big Cajun Bus Man, I figured I’d discuss an interesting (if not confusing) discussion I had with a co-worker about why she might only use tickets to ride the bus (even though she rides it to work pretty much every day).

The arithmetic of the bus in Ottawa is quite simple:

  • To ride an express bus costs $4.25 cash (exact change only please, and they don’t really like bills much either).
  • You can get on the same bus for 3 bus tickets which is a total cost of $3.90
  • If you have a pass, which costs $116 for the month, so if you assume 22 days and two trips a day the approximate cost is about $2.70 (rounding up).

Why would anyone use tickets alone? If it is someone who only occasionally takes the bus, then tickets is much better than ca$h, however, if you are traveling for more than about 15 days (round trip), tickets no longer make a lot of sense in terms of spending as well.

Another more interesting reason  I got from a young lady that I work with, is that if she had a pass she would take the bus everywhere, and would stop walking as much (and thus would not be in as good shape). This is an interesting argument (much like my f(Convenience Constant) value from Big Cajun Bus Man post), but the fact that she does take the bus every day to work, means it isn’t really a valid argument. She has seen the light and will be getting an ECOPass which is even better than a monthly pass, because it is a yearly pass, where you really end up paying for 10 months on the bus (thus 16% cheaper).

Buy a pass, bite the bullet and start saving some money, oh and if you buy tickets or pay cash, you can’t write off the price of your Bus riding either (you can with a pass).

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  • Sandy Kemsley February 13, 2012, 1:26 PM

    Unfortunately, the same doesn’t hold true in Toronto: tokens (and tickets) are $2.60 each if you buy a 7-pack, meaning that each day’s commute costs $5.20. If you ride only on weekdays, that’s an average of 22 days per month, or $114.40/month if you pay in tokens. A monthly TTC Metropass is $126, meaning that you need to ride at least 5 more times in addition to your weekday commute each month to break even with the Metropass.

    However, the federal transit tax credit is available for the purchase of Metropasses, so you will get some tax back at the end of the year, which will likely more than compensate for the difference, depending on your tax bracket.

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