Streetcar: is it worth it?

Last week I took a week off work. And hired a Streetcar for the nine day period, at an overall cost of £289.43. That includes petrol, insurance and parking round the corner from our home. It also takes into account a £5.95 reduction for taking it through the car wash, which my daughter loved!

Over the course of the week, I drove 276 miles (444km), averaging £1.05 per mile (65 pence per km). Let’s stay metric from hereon in.

Allowing for a combined fuel consumption of 6.7 litres per 100km travelled and an average petrol cost of £1.15, petrol would have cost me £34.22. My parking would have cost £3.20, and my road tax £4.19, both pro rated from the annual charges of £130 and £170 respectively. tells me my insurance on a VW Golf 1.6 would be around £750 per year, or £18.49 for the nine day period.

If we say the car cost £15,000 and it depreciated fully over five years, then that would equate to £73.97 in depreciation over the nine day period. Yikes.

So if I owned a car, my costs for the nine days would have totalled £134.07. I’ve not included the cost of any maintenance work, servicing, damage I wouldn’t want to claim on my insurance, car washes or MOTs in this figure.

So I paid £155.36 extra over the nine day period for the luxury of not owning a car, but having access to one whenever I choose, subject to availability.

But that wasn’t my average Streetcar week. Over the last twelve months (including last week), I’ve used a Streetcar on 40 calendar days, travelling 2,573km (1,599 miles) at a cost of £1,591.26. That’s 62 pence per km, or 99.5 pence per mile.

If I’d owned a car, my costs would have been:

A total of £4,222.41, or 165% higher than the Streetcar cost. Even ignoring the depreciation, the cost would have been £1,222.41, or 77% of the Streetcar cost.

Streetcar does prohibit us a little. Occasionally it would be nice to be able to just jump in the car and drive somewhere, without thinking about cars’ availability. But when you look at the relative costs, given the amount of driving we do, owning a car just ain’t worth it.


2 Responses to “Streetcar: is it worth it?”

  1. Nick Robinson on September 22nd, 2008 18:04

    Good post, Dan, as this is just the kind of calculation we should be doing, making the total costs and benefits of car ownership more transparent. We did a very similar calculation the first time we were faced with the prospect of not having a company car (back in the days when it wasn’t so tax-disadvantageous to have one of those).
    I calculated that for the mileage I was doing, about 10k a year mostly outside London, a car was marginally more expensive than either taxis for short journeys and train+taxi for longer ones. Convenience won out in the end, based mostly on the number of individual trips we expected, and we bought a car.
    Incidentally, in your calculations you haven’t allowed anything for the cost of financing a car purchase, either in terms of a loan you might need to take out, or the lost interest on using your funds. Unless you’re assuming it’d be a Suzuki Shite or something similar available with zero financing – and correspondingly higher depreciation.

  2. Dan on October 4th, 2008 18:52

    Thanks, Nick. Very enjoyable analysis it was too.

    Your arguments strengthen the argument, but my brother’s yet to be convinced, driving a 20 year-old reliable car and not needing to factor in depreciation. That said, it did break down on the M4 the other week!

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