Total cost of a trip: Car versus Bus

Personal time $5/hr, Gasoline $3.70/gallon,Bus fare $2.00, Vehicle 22.5 mi/gallon, bus and auto coefficients mentioned earlier.

So here is a graph to begin exploring problems with the economic utility of using carts on the public bus as an alternative transportation system to the auto or truck.

The lines show a kind of total cost for making a trip of a given distance.

For the car, the total cost being graphed is $ 5/hr for personal time plus $.33 per mile for gasoline and maintenance.

For the bus, the total cost being graphed is $5/hr for personal time plus $ 2.00 bus fare.


The graph shows in a nutshell the problem that all kinds of bus travelers face: When you count a cost for the time you spend riding the bus, the "total cost" of the bus ride is greater than the similarly figured "total cost" of a car trip.

  • I'll work on putting up a Google spreadsheet so you can experiment with changing the values of the graph. It is very interesting to see the effects of eight dollar gasoline and a modest improvement in the linear equation coefficients of the bus system.
  • One of the most impressive changes in assumptions is to explore cart transportation schemes that eliminate the cart operator. Carts that can travel on the bus system without an operator are released from the time and distance economics that make individual autos attractive.

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