I’ve been thinking about how we are going to survive the coming $6/gallon or worse extortion by the oil barons.
Part of the answer is living here in Laurel close to employment centers and on the Marc Train line. We really don’t appreciate how fortunate we are to have the Marc service in Laurel. Marc only costs us $3/day to commute to either downtown Washington or Baltimore on the heavily subsidized service. Today, Marc cuts your commuting cost in half, if you work in Washington or Baltimore.
I wanted to see how much living in Laurel was worth in terms of commuter savings. So I calculated the yearly cost of commuting to Rosslyn, VA. I assumed the federal government’s 235 working days year. I also assumed your car gets 30 mpg and I used current Marc, Metro and parking fees. I did not account for the public transportation subsidy programs that are offered by many government agencies. The federal program currently pays $110/month to qualified commuters.
I modeled four Laurel to Rosslyn commuting strategies. I estimated the one-way trip time and the total annual costs based on the price of a gallon of fuel.
1. Marc Train from Laurel to Union Station. Metro Train from Union Station to Rosslyn.
2. Metro Bus from Laurel to Greenbelt (routes 88/89). Metro Train from Greenbelt to Rosslyn.
3. Drive from Laurel to Greenbelt. Metro Train from Greenbelt to Rosslyn.
4. Drive from Laurel to Rosslyn.
Annual Cost @ $4/gal $5/gal $6/gal $7/gal $8/gal
1. Marc to Metro (75 mins) $1,575 $1,575 $1,575 $1,575 $1,575
2. Bus to Metro (90 mins) $2,468 $2,468 $2,468 $2,468 $2,468
3. Drive to Metro (60 mins) $3,701 $3,889 $4,077 $4,265 $4,453
4. Drive to Work (60 mins) $2,967 $3,368 $3,760 $4,151 $4,543
The Marc train from Laurel to Union Station is the best value at $6.70/day. You use your $125/month unlimited Marc Train Pass ($3/day) and then add in the $3.70/day for the Metro roundtrip ride to Rosslyn. There is no charge for your cardio walk from home to the Laurel Marc Station. The Metro Bus is the next best solution, but why ride the bus when the Marc is faster and cheaper?
Driving to Greenbelt and taking the Metro to Rosslyn will be the costliest commute until fuel gets closer to $8/gallon. The costs are so high because Metro charges $4.25 to park and $8.30 for your round trip to Rosslyn. Then you add in your fuel cost for the 24 mile roundtrip drive to Greenbelt Station.
Driving to Rosslyn means 50 miles a day on the road. At $4/gal and with an efficient 30 mpg car, it will cost you $6.70 for fuel and $6 for parking each day. I did not include the annual cost of having your head examined.
I commuted via the Marc Train during a year working on Capitol Hill. I read the paper and drank coffee on the way in to my office every morning. My Friday night commute home ritually included a bag of cashews and small bottle of wine. Try that on the Beltway.
p.s. I also really like the idea of brewing my own fuel. Have you seen these new home ethanol factories? Pump in water, electricity, yeast and feed sugar and you can make 35 gallons a week of pure ethanol for $1-2/gallon. Combine the ethanol factory with solar shingles and a typical Laurel family should be able to significantly cut both our energy bills and carbon footprint.
p.p.s. I hope the oil barons find a tasty way to eat all the crude oil that we won't need.