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Car vs public transport: which is more cost effective?

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This is a question many of us find ourselves pondering- is it cheaper to own and run a car, or just stick with public transport?

Unfortunately there’s no one size fits all answer, the decision will come down to lots of different factors so it’s something you’ll need to research and work out what’s best for your situation.

Here are some things to consider.

Car vs public transport which is more cost effective 

What is the public transport like where you live?

First things first, if you live in a busy city or more of a built up area then chances are the public transport links will be excellent. From regular buses to trams, trains and even Uber- you have numerous options for getting around.

If the public transport is reliable, the routes run to where you need to go (such as near your work and children's schools) then it might make more sense to stick with public transport. If you live a little further out or in the countryside, you might not have this luxury and so getting a car could be your best option. 

Look into annual passes

If you’re considering going down the public transport route, take a look at the monthly, seasonal or annual passes available to you. This will always work out cheaper than buying individual tickets and if you’re using these services regularly it will cost you a lot less overall.

See if the combined price of train, tram, bus passes and anything else you use is cheaper than the cost of running a car. In some places it might not be, and if that’s the case then getting a car would be the sensible choice. 

Car vs public transport_ which is more cost effective_

Research cost effective cars

If you have decided that a car would be the right option for you, you’ll want to make sure you’re making car ownership as inexpensive as possible. Research makes and models, find something that’s cheap on fuel and is known to be reliable saving you on repairs. Common car models tend to be best for this, as when they do break down the parts are easy to source and garages are used to fitting them.

Something small with a smaller engine is likely to be a savvy choice, but before going to a car company and signing on the dotted line, run some insurance quotes. Prices can vary wildly even between similar models so it’s important to know ahead of time what you’re going to be paying. 

Consider parking costs

Finally, as well as maintaining a car (paying things like tax, insurance, repairs and fuel) you’ll need to consider parking costs. If you park regularly in car parks that aren't free then these costs can add up- check with the local council for things like annual parking tickets which again can save you money. 

Final word

There really is no straight answer for which is more cost-effective as it ultimately depends on where you live and where you need to travel to and park regularly.  Your cheapest option might not be the same as someone else’s, so do research into your own public transport links and see which works out most cost effective for your lifestyle.