Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon

AAA Cost of Driving = 57¢/mile = 37¢/passenger-mile = 25¢/passenger-mile for the rest of us

AAA 2010 stated cost of driving (per vehicle mile).................................................$0.57

The AAA lists the cost of driving for three classes of cars and at three different annual mileage This number of for their middle case - driving the “average” car 15,000 miles/year. It is the cost per vehicle mile. But, according to the TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 29, fig. 8.1, the average USA car has 1.59 people in it. Correcting for this gives:

AAA method cost of driving (per passenger-mile at 1.59/car)...................................$0.36

The AAA Driving Costs 2010.pdf states on page 3:

Depreciation is based on the difference between new-vehicle purchase price and estimated trade-in value at the end of five years.

...

Finance Costs are based on a five-year loan at 6 percent interest with a 10 percent down payment. The loan amount includes taxes and the first year’s license fees, both computed on a national average basis.

Thus the AAA data is for the average cost of driving a car that is only 2 ½ years old (presumably to match the typical upscale AAA member.) But, according to the TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 29, table 3.9, the average age of the average USA car is 10.6 years. Correcting for this, we get:

AAA cost of driving adjusted for car age difference.(per passenger-mile).................$0.25

We can also calculate the cost of driving entirely from data in the TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 29 (see below):

Actual average USA cost of driving ..................(per passenger-mile).......$0.24

Thus we can conclude that the actual cost of driving in the USA for the average person is around 25 cents/passenger-mile. Since this cost includes all licensing and taxes, it includes most of the cost of building and maintaining the roads. This is the cost to use to compare to different modes of travel such as transit bus, light rail, commuter rail or airline, although most transit data is given without the cost of building or maintaining the roads (or rails).

Cost of transit for Comparison

USA Average cost of bus transit..................................(per passenger-mile).......$0.85

This is only the cost of operating the bus system and does not include the cost of the buses or the cost of the roads that the transit buses use. When you include the cost of the buses (but not the cost of roads - government transit DOES NOT pay road taxes), you get something close to :

USA Average cost of bus transit including capital cost....(per passenger-mile)........$1.01

USA Average cost of light rail transit............................(per passenger-mile).........$0.52

This is only the cost of operating the light rail system and does not include the cost of the trains or construction of the rail lines or stations. When you include the cost of the buses, you get something close to :

USA Average cost of light rail transit including capital cost..(per passenger-mile).....$1.38

Conclusion

Using ONLY Federal government data, mass transit is MUCH more expensive than driving a car.

Subsidies

Federal report on highway financing. Interstate Highway Funding

Paper on externalities of various modes of transport O’Toole: What about Highway Subsidies?

Calculations for Actual average USA cost of driving

ALL Data is from TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 29,

Here is Table 8.3 with an added column of actual dollars for each of the tables percentages:

Average annual USA household expenditures...(before tax)............ $50,486

Vehicle purchases (net outlay) 7.1%.............................................5.5%.............($2,776)

Gasoline and motor oil 4.6%........................................................5.4% ...........($2,726)

Other vehicle expenditures 4.9%..................................................5.2%.............($2,625)

Public transportation 1.0%..........................................................1.0%................($505)

TOTAL.................................................................................... 17.6%......... ($8,632)

Average number of vehicles in HH.................................................2.0

Calculate:

Total..... (car only; 2 cars per above - w/o transit)................................................$8127

divide by average annual household miles...(table 8.9)...8127/(10,100x2cars)..............$0.40

Divide by 1,71 per vehicle (fig. 8.1).............cost per-passenger-mile......................$0.24

AAA stated cost of driving (for 2010)

From: The AAA publication at

http://www.aaapublicaffairs.com/Assets/Files/201048935480.Driving Costs 2010.pdf

The AAA Driving Costs 2010.pdf states on page 3:

Depreciation is based on the difference between new-vehicle purchase price and estimated trade-in value at the end of five years.

...

Finance Costs are based on a five-year loan at 6 percent interest with a 10 percent down payment. The loan amount includes taxes and the first year’s license fees, both computed on a national average basis.

Therefore the average car in the AAA study is 2.5 years old compared to the national average of 10.6 years (table 3.9). This accounts for almost all of the difference between the AAA cost of driving and the actual USA cost of driving. (And the IRS cost because the IRS appears to use the AAA number.)

The AAA Cost of Driving, pages 6 & 7, show the cost of driving for several situations, broken down into fixed and variable costs. For their middle case of a mid sized car driven 15,000 miles/yr, here is the AAA variable cost:

AAA average variable cost per mile..............................................16.74 cents

Here is the AAA chart of “ownership” costs with our added right hand column being the average USA cost from above (“AAA number” in the USA Avg. column means we used the AAA number):

AAA average ownership costs:.....................................AAA......................USA Avg.

full-coverage insurance................................................$1,031..................$1,031 (AAA number)*

license, registration, taxes........................................... $585.....................$585 (AAA number)*

depreciation (15,000 miles annually).............................$3,554..................$1,388 (actual cost)**

finance charge............................................................. $806........................$0 (in above)***

TOTAL......................................................................$5,976..................$3,424

at 15,000 miles/year:

Fixed costs........($5,976/15,000)....($3,424/15,000).........39.8 cents/mi.........22.8 cents/mi

Variable costs.............................................................16.74 cents/mi.........16.74 cents/mi(AAA number)

TOTAL coat per vehicle-mile.......................................56.54 cents/mi........39.5 cents/mi

Cost per Passenger-mile (at 1.59 /car: 56.54/1.59)....35.56 cents/mi........24.8

* the cost of both insurance and license, registration and taxes for the average car would be less than the AAA number, so using the AAA number here will make our USA average cost of driving higher that the actual real cost.

** Actual household car purchase expense $2,776 (calculated from Table 8.3 - see above) divided by 2 to get cost per car since there are two cars per household.

*** Finance charge is assumed to be in the vehicle purchase cost. Data from TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 29 Table 8.3: