Trip: train vs car cost comparison

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AntsOnTheMarch
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Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:59 am

Say you’re planning a trip and have the option of train vs car. It’s a city destination so car will get minimal use at final destination but there will be an outside of city destination during the stay that would require car rental if you didn’t have car with you.

Now say you create a spreadsheet to see which option would cost the least. Would you count wear and tear for mileage for car option? If so, what mileage cost would you use? IRS allowance is anywhere I think, between $0.14-0.545 depending on type of usage.

I like to do this sort of exercise to get a picture of the overall cost so, “do what is convenient or the least hassle” is not the answer I’m looking for.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

dbr
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by dbr » Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:12 am

I don't do this calculation, but if I were I would definitely expense wear and tear. I don't know the rate, but if the RT is 2000 miles and you allow only even 0.10/mile that is already $200. One might also estimate a contingency cost for breakdowns as presumably taking the train does not expose you to being stranded on the road. On the other hand any commercial transportation does expose you to contingencies of late/cancelled travel. Maybe cost of travel insurance is part of the calculation.

Point
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by Point » Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:17 am

Car insurance is sunk cost, everything else is milage dependent. The other factor to consider is the head count— if it’s one person then train could be advantage. Cars become less expensive as you add head count.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by adamthesmythe » Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:55 am

The only train trip in the US I would consider is from Jersey into NYC. So I would not bother to do a comparison.

But then: train travel is slow, I like to drive, I want to be able to stop along the way, and I bought a car in order to use it to go places. YMMV.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:43 pm

Point wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:17 am
Car insurance is sunk cost, everything else is milage dependent. The other factor to consider is the head count— if it’s one person then train could be advantage. Cars become less expensive as you add head count.
I will definitely account for number of travelers, gas, parking, tolls, etc. I can see just by roughing it that with the mileage at say 25¢ per mile, it’s reasonably close with the car being cheaper. With no mileage cost added, it’s like half the cost for the car. This is more an exercise than anything else but I like doing these spreadsheet scores because they sometimes reveal hidden but not obvious options.

PS. I tend to think that mileage cost is necessary for apples to apples comparison but just wanted to get feedback from the group. I’m sure that I’m not the only one here who gets a kick from this stuff. :D

MP173
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by MP173 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:47 pm

Use the IRS allowable mileage deduction....or price out a rental car and factor in gasoline.

Ed

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dm200
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by dm200 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:52 pm

Over the years, I have taken a few trips by train. It can be much more pleasant than driving.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:22 pm

MP173 wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:47 pm
Use the IRS allowable mileage deduction....or price out a rental car and factor in gasoline.

Ed
This seems the most reasonable. Train wins by a little bit using 54.5¢ per mile biz deduction. I’m quite surprised. I like trains so, cool!

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dm200
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:11 pm

AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:22 pm
MP173 wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:47 pm
Use the IRS allowable mileage deduction....or price out a rental car and factor in gasoline.
Ed
This seems the most reasonable. Train wins by a little bit using 54.5¢ per mile biz deduction. I’m quite surprised. I like trains so, cool!
Maybe that is the most important factor :)

hambone
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by hambone » Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:36 pm

I would not use the IRS number. The IRS number includes the cost of the car, insurance, wear and tear, gas ect. For your calculation car insurance is already a sunk cost and it will not cost you any extra to drive those 2,000 miles. I would include wear and tear, car depreciation, and gas instead of the IRS rate. Depreciation you can get a approximate amount by using KBB and seeing what difference 2,000 miles makes in the value of the car. For wear and tear it depends on the car but I would use between .10-.15 per mile.

dknightd
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by dknightd » Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:40 pm

Since this is just a money exercise, don't forget to include the cost of food and lodging.

Good Listener
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by Good Listener » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:25 pm

I think it is clear that car use must be factored in. Don't you change your oil every x miles and need new tires, breaks, air filters, belts, etc every y miles? You are also excluding what can be done with a long trip. In a car, you have the radio. On a train you can read, walk, sit and eat, etc, far more valuable in my opinion.

2015
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by 2015 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:08 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:11 pm
AntsOnTheMarch wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:22 pm
MP173 wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:47 pm
Use the IRS allowable mileage deduction....or price out a rental car and factor in gasoline.
Ed
This seems the most reasonable. Train wins by a little bit using 54.5¢ per mile biz deduction. I’m quite surprised. I like trains so, cool!
Maybe that is the most important factor :)
Agreed. Some things, like experiences, don't map well to a spreadsheet. I took the Pacific Surfliner in a sleeper car from LA to PDX last year and it was amazing.

http://www.pacificsurfliner.com/

Will travel again on the Sunset Limited from LA to NOL next week. Can't wait!

https://www.amtrak.com/sunset-limited-train

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Trip: train vs car cost comparison

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:42 pm

hambone wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:36 pm
I would not use the IRS number. The IRS number includes the cost of the car, insurance, wear and tear, gas ect. For your calculation car insurance is already a sunk cost and it will not cost you any extra to drive those 2,000 miles. I would include wear and tear, car depreciation, and gas instead of the IRS rate. Depreciation you can get a approximate amount by using KBB and seeing what difference 2,000 miles makes in the value of the car. For wear and tear it depends on the car but I would use between .10-.15 per mile.
Very interesting idea! At this point, I’ve done the math a few differnt ways and it’s moot. Factoring in any cost for the car, both amounts are close enough to each other that it’s a pick ’em. And since the wife and I like trains anyway, it will be a train. But it was fun to compare. BTW, I’m not sure where the 2,000 miles came from. It’s a 450 miles round trip.

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