California Commuting Cost Comparison: Single Driver Vs.Vanpool Vs. EV Vanpool

Here we take a look at the true costs of driving our ever-increasing commutes to work. We break down the true cost per mile and day for commuters in California. We compare single occupancy drivers in economy cars, commercial/luxury cars, traditional vanpools and our all-electric vanpools. Enjoy!

For commuters with a long or congested rides, podcasts and commercial-free radio are the best inventions since sliced bread as we mentally prepare for the arduous journey ahead. As housing becomes more expensive, less and less of us can afford to live near business or city centers. But on the other hand, living farther from your workplace just increases your commuting (and mental health!) costs. For an accurate cost comparison for living near or far from work, you have to know the true cost of commuting. Let’s break it down and see how the different types of vanpooling matches up.

  • Gas: In California, the current average price is $2.903 at a nice 30 MPG =10.3 cents/mile
  • Tires: At $300 per 50,000 miles = 0.6 cents/mile
  • Oil: At the national average cost of $37 per 5,000 miles = 0.7 cents/mile
  • Maintenance: $200 per 20,000 miles = 1 cent/mile
  • Depreciation: For the average economy car = 5 cents/mile
  • The minimum cost per mile rounded up as calculated here is $0.18/mile, and the hefty Government allowance rounded up for 2017 is $0.54/mile – Averaging those two extremes you can assume $0.36/mile
  • Now add the cost of insurance (CA average/day [not weighted for commuting driving only]) = $5.47/Day

Commuting from West LA to Downtown LA and back at a bit over 24 miles round trip, yours truly, spends almost $9.00 daily. Now including the cost for insurance per day (this is also be used for non-commute transportation) my true cost of driving is $12.56 per day!

According to a new Brookings study, more of us are traveling further, with a 7% decrease in people working jobs within a typical commuting distance. The US census shows LA-OC to have some of the most extreme (70 miles) and mega (166 miles) commutes in the country.

So here it is: The cost to commute per day comparing driving alone (economy & commercial) to traditional vanpooling to all-electric vanpooling.

Commercial or Luxury Vehicles $64.8 + 5.46 = $70.27/Day

Economy Vehicles $21.06 + 5.46 = $27.06/Day

Traditional Vanpooling $6.36/Day

Green Commuter’s EV Vanpooling $5.28/Day

EV Vanpool is the cheapest commute for long round trips


  • All vehicles assumed to drive 120 miles round trip per day
  • Vanpoolers receive the public transportation government subsidy (L.A. Metro subsidies used)
  • Both type of vanpools have 7 passengers
  • All Costs include insurance (SOV costs based on California averages, daily cost was added to daily costs per mile),
  • All costs for each transportation more include maintenance and fuel per mile per day
  • Months are based on 30 day periods
  • Traditional vanpool pricing based off of 2016 Enterprise Company Monthly leases

By Erica Reiner

Email Questions to info@greencommuter.org

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