Saturday, January 13, 2024

#CarFreeFamily2023: How Much Does It Cost?

Testing out my new waterproof shoes on a puddly walk
Here we are, it's January 2024... time to tally up how much our family of four spent on getting around last year. It was definitely a weird year, after a number of weird years... Sadly, Oliver's father died in the spring, which meant we were travelling to the Okanagan quite a bit... and... we inherited a car. So that changed our transportation landscape a bit. We did sooooo much driving.

A quick note on what I count or don't count towards our total costs for the year: I don't include bike purchases 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. I also don't include things that my employer pays for, like my Mobi membership.


Oops, drained the car battery by leaving the hatch open too
much & needed a jump start to leave the campground. 
As I mentioned earlier, this year involved a lot more driving than the past... decade, probably? We used Modo 13 times, but mainly drove the car we inherited, from April onward. We needed to renew the insurance in September, & of course there was gas, parking (no free meter parking or permit for any street parking like with Modo!) & some maintenance costs. We did do quite a few more longer trips than we typically would, going up to Kelowna multiple times, we did a camping trip to Sasquatch, plus I drove to Ucluelet with a friend in November. All told, nine months of owning this car cost us $3085.20

We used Modo about three times a month in the winter & spring, before we got the car, & a couple times after that, when using a wheelchair accessible van to give a friend a ride to an event, & a cargo van to move some furniture. Total cost: $417.98

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. Simply choose the type of vehicle, the time you want to use it, & how far you're planning to go.

Oliver & Linny used Poparide to go up to the Okanagan in the spring, just a one-way trip, which cost $132.64.  

Total cost to drive: $3635.82


Riding the ʔapsčiik t̓ašii trail from
Ucluelet to Tofino with Donna
This year we spent more than usual on bike maintenance & accessories. Half of the year's cost was four really good lights that I bought, & for tuning up & replacing some parts on my late grandfather's little Raleigh 20. This isn't going to be a daily commuter, more of a fun little project bike--it has more sentimental value than anything else. In terms of our regular bikes--the Tern Vektron & the Tern GSD--it was the usual--a few brake pads here & there, a bit of maintenance. All that came to $938.50.

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 $8 on electricity charging my Tern GSD & Oliver's Tern Vektron. I estimate about 50 full charges of the 900Wh of batteries in the roughly 4000km 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: $974.46.


In November, I spent a weekend in Ucluelet, which cost a fair whack in ferry costs for reservations. If we'd walked or biked on, it would have been waaaaay less, but biking to Ucluelet from Nanaimo would have been a BIT more exercise than either of us wanted for this weekend getaway, ha! My friend Donna paid for half of the reservation, but my share still came out to $120.50. 


I took transit for three one-way trips & maybe one or two more that were paid by my employer (I have a Compass card that I can use to travel to & from work when I teach). The kids & Oliver didn't take transit at all. So, our transit costs were only $7.60.

And, that's it for all the categories of transportation, so... 

*drum roll please*

The total transportation costs for our family of four in 2023 was $4738.38. 

This is over four times more than we spent last year, although it still comes in at less than half of what the average person spends for owning & operating a car here because we mainly get around by bike & walking. Despite having the convenience of a car sitting there outside, waiting for us to drive it, I'm not that interested in keeping it. We don't really use it that much more than we used Modos, but it costs WAY more to just sit there, idle.  

For decades I've avoided rush hour vehicle congestion by cycling on the bike routes, & had rock star parking for free at the bike racks or with Modo's skookum parking permits. The convenience of owning a car just isn't worth the extra frustration & money for me, so we'll be selling it in the next year.

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, 20212022 here.

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