The economics of commuting


Sometimes even millionaires like Bruce Wayne need to take public transport.

Except that when Bruce needs to get to work he takes the Batmobile: an expensive piece of kit that traverses the crowded streets of Gotham City like a hot knife through butter. It looks to me like he’s merely off to a party right now.

An Institute of Fiscal Studies report from 2000 showed, unsurprisingly, that the cost of public transport had risen over the last 25 years but also that, by and large, people were spending a greater proportion of their household income on private rather than public transport.

However, the report does not differentiate between the general cost of travel and cost of travel for the purpose of getting to work.

I think this is a mistake.

For the vast majority of people with full or part-time jobs, the balance of scale between where to live, where to work, how much it costs and how much time it takes each day/week to get there, is not a conscious decision, it is arrived at through circumstance.

A far more useful assessment of what the modern UK household spends on travel would break it down by travel that people choose to undertake and travel that necessitates the budget in the first place. My feeling is that the economics of commuting in urban areas costs more than it is worth…


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