Key considerations for comparing car vs public transport

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In deciding whether to commute 2-3 times a week by car or public transport, what are the key important factors to consider? I have outlined a few considerations below but want to see if I’m missing anything as I’ve never commuted by car before. Commute is from North London to an office near Heathrow Airport. 

Option A - car - 1 hour 10 door to door during rush hour but may depend on traffic conditions on day, generally more expensive than option B plus unexpected costs for repairs, maintenance etc. route would be north circular or m25. 

Option B - 2 trains and a bus (frequent service during rush hour) - 1 hour 15 - 1 hour 30 depending on time you leave, fixed season ticket cost, more flexible if I want to do something in central london on the way home. 
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  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 47,126 Ambassador
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    The big question is parking at work. Is there a guarantee of space to park near work and at what cost?

    You are not clear on whether you are a car owner now, or are considering buying a car in order to commute.
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  • NBLondon
    NBLondon Posts: 5,539 Forumite
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    Given that the destination is near Heathrow - the possibility of traffic snarl-ups might be higher than other areas.

    Advantages of A - you can listen to the radio as loud as you like and sing along badly; you always get a seat, you don't get squeezed close to unpleasant people; timings are under your control.

    Advantages of B - you can read or watch TV while you travel (data and wi-fi allowing); you sometimes get freebies given out at stations.
    Wash your Knobs and Knockers... Keep the Postie safe!
  • Jaybee_16
    Jaybee_16 Posts: 433 Forumite
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    I regularly drove around the North Circular and along the M4 usually outside of the morning peak period (11am ish). The A406 from Finchley to Chiswick roundabout took an hour so depending on where in north London you are starting from and expecting peak traffic to be busier and therefore slower, your estimated time may be a little optimistic. 
  • Ybe
    Ybe Posts: 293 Forumite
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    silvercar said:
    The big question is parking at work. Is there a guarantee of space to park near work and at what cost?

    You are not clear on whether you are a car owner now, or are considering buying a car in order to commute.
    There is free parking at work. I’m not a car owner so would have to buy a car if I choose option A. 
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 10,501 Forumite
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    I got a job that had free parking available.  Until the week before I started there and then it was £50 a month.  Not a lot but it wasn't in my calculations when I was looking to change my job that I would lose £600 a year.  So just remember that things can change at any time.  Might be something your company does, might be some political agenda like congestion charges.

    Big issue for me with public transport is when there are strikes or the trains/buses are suddenly not running on time.  Commuting takes a big chunk out of the day so I want to do it my way and in comfort.  When we bought our first house one of my considerations was how easy it was to commute by public transport and I was pleased that there was a bus stop nearby and a regular bus service.  But there was no connection between the bus company and the trains so the daily cost was £10 to go 7 miles which could take up to an hour.  And then the bus company cut some services.  And then went out of business.  Another bus company picked up some, but not all, routes.   By car the drive was 20 minutes on a good day, 50 on a bad one.  

    My compromise solution was to get the OH to drive me to the train station (cutting out the unreliable bus & half the cost) and then if the train wasn't running to drive me the rest of the way to work and then after work I'd take the train and walk from the station to the house.  
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • NBLondon
    NBLondon Posts: 5,539 Forumite
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    Ybe said:
    silvercar said:
    The big question is parking at work. Is there a guarantee of space to park near work and at what cost?

    You are not clear on whether you are a car owner now, or are considering buying a car in order to commute.
    There is free parking at work. I’m not a car owner so would have to buy a car if I choose option A. 
    I wouldn't recommend buying a car specifically for this commute/job -  only if you were thinking of buying anyway.   The job might fall through/ you fail probation/ you hate the job and want to bail out.

    Is there already a car in your household?  Can you try both options?

    Start by using public transport; then see if there's anyone in the new office who lives near you who might be interested in a car share - either a regular lift where you contribute (and don't then have to buy a car) or take turns after you have bought a car.  Then take your time buying the right car and deciding which way to commute.


    Wash your Knobs and Knockers... Keep the Postie safe!
  • p00hsticks
    p00hsticks Posts: 12,981 Forumite
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    Ybe said:
    silvercar said:
    The big question is parking at work. Is there a guarantee of space to park near work and at what cost?

    You are not clear on whether you are a car owner now, or are considering buying a car in order to commute.
    There is free parking at work. I’m not a car owner so would have to buy a car if I choose option A. 
    And readily available parking at home too ?
  • Ybe
    Ybe Posts: 293 Forumite
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    Ybe said:
    silvercar said:
    The big question is parking at work. Is there a guarantee of space to park near work and at what cost?

    You are not clear on whether you are a car owner now, or are considering buying a car in order to commute.
    There is free parking at work. I’m not a car owner so would have to buy a car if I choose option A. 
    And readily available parking at home too ?
    Yes, free parking at home too which is currently unused 
  • Ybe
    Ybe Posts: 293 Forumite
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    NBLondon said:
    Ybe said:
    silvercar said:
    The big question is parking at work. Is there a guarantee of space to park near work and at what cost?

    You are not clear on whether you are a car owner now, or are considering buying a car in order to commute.
    There is free parking at work. I’m not a car owner so would have to buy a car if I choose option A. 
    I wouldn't recommend buying a car specifically for this commute/job -  only if you were thinking of buying anyway.   The job might fall through/ you fail probation/ you hate the job and want to bail out.

    Is there already a car in your household?  Can you try both options?

    Start by using public transport; then see if there's anyone in the new office who lives near you who might be interested in a car share - either a regular lift where you contribute (and don't then have to buy a car) or take turns after you have bought a car.  Then take your time buying the right car and deciding which way to commute.


    This is good advice. Thanks. 
  • SiliconChip
    SiliconChip Posts: 1,385 Forumite
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    I'd assume that all of your commute journeys will be in the ULEZ, either now or from August when the zone expands, so you'll need to ensure that the vehicle you buy is ULEZ-compliant or factor in paying £12.50 every day that you travel to the office.
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