Why Not To Drive, Reason #1: Money

Pile of money
(c) Tracy Olson

About a year ago, AAA came out with a study on the total cost of owning and operating a car. They found that the average driver in America would spend $8,698 over the course of a year, or $725 per month.
Their calculations include the following expenses:

  • Fuel
  • Insurance
  • Taxes, license, registration
  • Maintenance (including tires)
  • Depreciation
  • Finance charges

The calculations do not include certain factors that affect urban drivers in New England more than others across the country, such as parking, cleaning, and cost of living. Also, size matters: if you drive a larger vehicle such as a minivan or SUV, you’ll pay significantly more than drivers of sedans and compacts.

However, let’s be generous assume that you are an “average” American driver. That means that you spend about $725 per month to own and operate your car.

From a TRIPPS perspective, we can consider this to be your “transportation budget” for the month.

Once you take that view, think of the places you can go on $725 a month! That’s equal to:

  • 50 door-to-door rides in a taxi (3 miles, plus a 10% tip)
  • Somewhere between 45 and 85 door-to-door rides with a ride-hailing service (depending on level of service, time of day, etc.)
  • 35 round trips from North Station to Newburyport on the Commuter Rail
  • An unlimited MBTA Senior Charlie Card, with $695 left over for shuttling to and from T stops!

All without worrying about parking, gassing up, driving in traffic, navigating unfamiliar roads at night or on poor weather…

Look back at your own checkbook register to see what you spend on your car and add it all up. What’s YOUR monthly transportation budget?


This post is the first in our ten-part “Why Not to Drive” series.

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