Monday, January 2, 2023

#CarFreeFamily2022: How Much Does It Cost?

It's that time again: that time where I look back through my email receipts, Compass card records, & Modo account to see what the four of us spent on transportation for the year. 2022 wasn't all that different from 2020 & 2021, transportation-wise: we used no taxis, no ridesharing, no car rentals, & only a couple trips on the water. We got around by bike & on foot the vast majority of the time, which are practically free. I have started using Mobi again a bit to commute to work, but that's covered by my employer so I don't count it below

Before I get down to brass tacks, on the topic of what I count or don't count: I don't include bike purchases (we bought a used tandem this year!) or new helmets because we would likely own them anyway, whether we were using them for transportation or not. I'm not including things like umbrellas, rain coats, or shoes, because though they are definitely part of what makes walking & biking doable for transportation, we would need to own those even if we drove everywhere. Things like extra food to fuel all the active travel is also not included, since I doubt we'd eat any less if we were exercising less.

a woman stands with a walker in front of a Modo minivan with a girl sitting in the back seat. the sliding door & side door of the van are open, it's parked in a hospital parking lot
Modo home after my hip replacement surgery

On paper, 2022 wasn't all that different from the previous year, but personally it was another slightly unusual one. Partly because we're still not doing everything that we did before COVID (mainly travel & family visits, when we tended to use Modo), but also because I got myself a shiny new hip in April! 

We spent a little more on Modo in the spring to go on walks when I was still quite limited in my mobility, & bored with walking around the exact same few blocks near home. We also spent a little more on Modos to get to & from various kid appointments in the unusually cold & wet fall & winter months near the end of the year. Despite driving about 50% more often than is typical for us--17 trips in 2022--it only cost a total of $528.52.

By the way, this Modo cost includes gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, membership fees, usage costs--everything. It's really so much cheaper than owning a car if you don't need to drive it daily. It's also much nicer to know how much access to a vehicle will cost you: since maintenance, gas, insurance, & most of the time even parking are included, there are no surprise bills for repairs or maintenance. If you're wondering what Modo costs, you can use their trip calculator here on their website to see what a trip would cost. Just choose the type of vehicle, the time you want to use it, & how far you're planning to go. 

Total cost to drive: $528.52

a woman stands next to her bike in the snow
#VikingBiking for after school pickup in December


2022 saw no huge purchases on bike gear, other than a new pair of tires for my Tern GSD. We replaced front & rear brake pads & a chain, plus paying our local bike shop to have the studded winter tires taken off in late winter & put on again in late fall. All that came to $499.64.

Electricity costs are a bit harder to calculate, because it's only a few cents each time we charge our bikes. I'd say we spent about $10 on electricity charging my Tern GSD & Oliver's Tern Vektron. I estimate about 60 full charges of the 900Wh of batteries in the roughly 5000km I rode. Oliver rides much less than me, as he's been working from home 99% of the time, so I doubt he needed a full charge more than once a month.

Total cost to run our bikes: $509.64

Aquabus tour of False Creek for Canada Day


On Canada Day, my friend Donna, Bronte & I played tourist in our own town for the day & got Aquabus passes so we could flit around False Creek by boat for the day. That cost us a grand total of $30. We didn't manage to do any camping trips this year, sadly, but we did do one short daytrip to Bowen, which cost B & I a grand total of $16.75

These two trips were recreational, & we likely would still have taken both even if we were diehard car people, but bringing a vehicle to Bowen Island would have cost us about $32 more in ferry fares alone.

Total cost of boat travel: $46.75


We took transit more this year than 2021, but a lot of my trips were paid by my employer (I have a Compass card that I can use to travel to & from work). Another thing that cut down on transit costs is here in BC, kids under 13 travel free. Between all four of us, our transit costs were only $17.15, which is about six one-way trips.

Total cost for transit: $17.15

And, that's it for all the categories of transportation, so... *drum roll please*

The total transportation costs for our car-free family of four in 2022 was $1,102.06.

This is 7.5% less than we spent last year & about nine times less than the average person spends on owning a car. Keeping our transportation costs this low by not owning a car is one of the biggest factors in how we can afford to live in such an expensive city as Vancouver. It isn't always fun to cycle or walk in the rainy weather, but I do love how much exercise just gets built into my life without having to think about it. & on those days where it's just too cold or too icy or too wet (not actually that often) or too far to bike where we need to go, we can always drive a Modo.

So, how about you? What did you spend on transportation last year? Do you total it up annually? What are the upsides & downsides of how you get around? What do you do to save costs on transportation?

If you're curious about our past transportation costs, you can check out my posts on the breakdown for 201820192020, & 2021 here.

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