What is your commute worth?
Don’t ask me. I work from home. My commute is about 10 feet. But, if I had to commute what would it be worth?
Why are we doing this? Primarily, I wanted to figure out what would be a reasonable value to charge to drive someone to and from work, say, if you had a fully automated vehicle and wanted to share it with everyone who could afford it – like Uber but without a driver. What could you charge? And, also, I wanted to know, if I have to get a on-site job, what would be the cost I’d have to add to my paycheck to take such a job.
Let’s start with a few numbers.
- 20 miles to work site, 40 miles round trip.
- 100 calories burned by the average human body walking one mile.
- 500 calories that can be purchased (on average) for one dollar.
- 40 mph average speed of a “commute” vehicle.
- $40 dollars per hour cost equivalent lost while driving.
[Now, I know I’m mixing my metaphors here – human calories and vehicle speed – but I’m just looking for ballpark here. I could got with gas + maintenance + vehicle cost, but that would vary just as much.]
It would take 4000 calories for a human to walk that far (round trip).
At 500 calories per dollar (see cite below) that’s 8 dollars round trip.
At 40 miles total at 40 miles per hour that would be $40 per day wasted in traffic.
So we have:
- $8 * 250 days = $2,000 / year (energy)
- $40 * 250 days = $10,000 / year in time (time)
If we double the dollars per calorie cost (more reasonable given today’s food costs) then the price per year for energy goes up twice to $16 / day or $4,000 / year. Just for energy.
At this point we have $14,000 per year cost to commute.
Now, the time would still be a factor in using a fully automated car, but the $16/hour cost to pay for the travel (energy + rent the vehicle) is really low. There is no way to rent a car out (and pay for fuel) at that price. And even twice that at $32/hour — during rush hour — would be inadequate — regardless of time considerations.
[What does Uber cost? Apparently about $2/mile which would push the cost up to $80/day to use Uber as a commute solution. Which oddly enough is pretty close to the $32 + $40 that we’d spend in travel+time. But sheesh, who wants to pay that?]
So, realistically, by NOT commuting, I’m saving between $14,000 and $18,000 per year.
How do you feel knowing your commute costs you over $15k per year? Imagine telling your boss that having to sit in that little beige cubicle, within shouting distance of her, costs you personally, fifteen thousand dollars a year! Bloody hell! Let me work from home!
What about the investment concept? If a fleet of automated vehicles could operate efficiently at a cost between about $30-$50/hour then such a solution “could” possibly be an economic winner. ‘Course, you could try and ride the bus…