Relying on Rideshare Is Still Steeper Than Owning a Car - Voice of San Diego

Cost of Living

Relying on Rideshare Is Still Steeper Than Owning a Car

Might be a good idea to temper that sharing economy enthusiasm for now. Owning a car is still a cheaper option in San Diego.

Don’t be too swayed by the sharing economy just yet. Getting around solely by rideshare is still more expensive than owning a car.

Finance site NerdWallet crunched the numbers for cities across the U.S., and on average for all of them, car costs were lower than turning to Lyft or UberX as go-to wheels.

The average costs of owning a car in San Diego stacked up to $11,696.58, while using Lyft or UberX would run you $19,124.47 a year.

NerdWallet analysts used a 2014 Toyota Camry as their model. Ownership costs broke down to carrying costs – taxes and fees and depreciation, etc. – and operating costs – maintenance, repair, parking, insurance and yearly gas costs.

I’ll let them explain how they came to the Lyft and Uber costs:

We calculated Lyft and Uber costs with numbers from the federal highway administration and census bureau to approximate car usage. We used the rates provided by Lyft and Uber on their websites to calculate cost per mile, cost per minute and the base rate for each ride. We didn’t account for surge pricing or Lyft Line or Uber Pool — the carpool rideshare options that can cut costs up to 50% less than our estimates.

To figure out car usage for each city, they used Federal Highway Administration averages for the number of trips a typical driver takes in a day and the number of miles those drivers travel daily, as well as the average one-way commute for each city provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The study’s findings come with a few caveats: Base costs for the two services vary, and so too do the number of Lyft or Uber rides a person could take with the money saved by ditching his or her car. In every city NerdWallet checked, it’s less expensive to stick with your car, though cities like Miami have a narrower gap than San Diego.

But owning a car in San Diego isn’t exactly easy on the ol’ pocketbook either, as Andrew Keatts has pointed out. The nonprofit research group Citizens Budget Commission of New York found earlier this year that owning a car is a virtual prerequisite for living in San Diego, and that can get very expensive:

Cities with effective public transportation —  New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston —  have lower annual transportation costs; those with the most expensive transportation —  San Jose, Riverside, Jacksonville and San Diego — rely primarily on cars.

Turns out, owning a car (and paying for insurance, gas and ongoing maintenance), is really expensive.

TransitCarShare

That’s not to say owning a car or using a rideshare service are your only options to get around. There’s public transit, too.

Since unveiling its general plan in 2008, San Diego’s been trying to boost public transportation usage, prioritizing dense development near transit centers — though that plan’s hit more than a few hurdles. We’re also seeing new lines like the Mid-City Rapid and SANDAG’s emphasis on developing light rail in its long-term transportation plan.

For now, our public transportation networks remain relatively underused compared with other major cities. According to the Citizens Budget Commission’s research, more than 90 percent of San Diego homes own a vehicle, while less than 5 percent of people use transit. (But let’s drop the myth that no one  takes the trolley.)

Think you could swing living in San Diego sans personal vehicle? NerdWallet suggested parents, folks with long commutes and those in cities without rideshare hold onto their cars, while ditching a car might be a more feasible option for people with “checkered” driving pasts, those who own luxury cars with high insurance and maintenance costs and those with short commutes or easy access to public transit.

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