Mon, Aug 20, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Car commuting costs weighed

HUGE SAVINGS:A government study found that car commuters spend an average of NT$13,777 per month, and could save up to NT$140,000 per year on public transport

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Commuters could save up to NT$140,000 per year if they sell their cars and take public transport, a Ministry of Transportation and Communications study showed.

In last year’s study, about 30 percent of commuters in Taipei City, New Taipei City (新北市), Greater Taichung, Keelung and Hsinchu City were considering switching to public transport.

In this year’s study, the ministry included commuters in Greater Kaohsiung, Greater Tainan and Taoyuan County and compared the cost of driving a car with the cost of commuting by train, bus or MRT.

The ministry’s statistical department used the formula adopted by American Public Transportation Association as reference, which takes into account the fixed costs and variable costs of owning and operating a car.

The fixed costs included the fuel surcharge, the car license tax, car insurance fees and amortization costs. The variable costs included gasoline purchases, maintenance fees, parking fees, freeway toll fees and others. The results of the study showed that a car commuter spends an average of NT$11,964 per month on transportation alone, whereas people who take public transport spend about NT$1,900 per month.

When examining the statistics for different cities, the study found that a car commuter in Taipei City spends an average of NT$13,777 per month, the highest among the eight cities and counties in the study.

Monthly transportation costs would be dramatically reduced to NT$1,973 per person if commuters sold their cars and took public transport. In total, a commuter in Taipei City could save approximately NT$141,000 per year.

New Taipei City and Taoyuan County ranked second and third place in terms of car commuting costs, topping NT$13,373 and NT$12,196 per month respectively.

Commuters there could save about NT$140,000 and NT$119,000 a year respectively if they commuted by bus, train or MRT.

The study also found that a commuter could still save a decent amount of money if he chose to commute by public transport, but kept his or her car. On average, each commuter could save NT$4,299 per month, or NT$51,588 per year. Based on location, commuters in New Taipei City could save NT$5,837 per month, or NT$70,044 per year, the highest of the eight cities in the study. That figure was followed by commuters in Taipei City and Greater Kaohsiung, who could save NT$5,498 and NT$5,015 in commuting costs per month respectively.

Despite the potential savings, the study found that more than 60 percent of commuters in New Taipei City, Greater Taichung, Keelung, Hsinchu City, Taoyuan County, Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan would not consider switching from motor vehicles to public transport system in the next three years. Those in Taipei City were the only exception in the study, with about 45 percent saying they would consider switching.

Wang Jing-yuan (王晉元), associate professor at National Chiao Tung University, said many counties and cities have yet to develop a mature public transport network system, which explained why people were less motivated to drop their cars.

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