Getting to work isn’t as simple as it used to be. Nowadays, there are plenty of transportation options, from driving your own car or carpooling to riding your bike or taking public transportation. Each way of getting to work comes with its own pros and cons, but there are reasons that some methods are more common than others.
The most popular way of getting to work is riding in some sort of personal automobile. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics notes that in 2020, nearly 77% of all workers got to work in some sort of personal automobile, down from 88% in 1989. Of those, 69% drove their vehicle themselves, while just under 8% carpooled.
The pros of taking a personal vehicle to work include flexibility (you can decide when to drive on your own schedule), as well as getting to customize your vehicle to your liking. The major con is expense, with AAA noting the average cost per mile for owning a new car in 2020 was 82¢, 34¢, and 55¢ based on 10,000, 15,000 and 20,000 miles per year, respectively. This includes expenses such as depreciation, fuel, insurance, license, registration, and taxes, as well as maintenance, repair, and tires. Other cons include not getting any exercise (when compared to walking or biking to work), as well as potential traffic accidents.
Work from Home
The next most popular way of getting to work? Not travelling to work at all. Due to the pandemic, those working from home in 2020 jumped to 16%, up from 5.7% in 2019. The major pro here is a reduction in all transportation expenses, while the con is paying to the increased expenses that come with working from home—electricity, WiFi, etc.
The third most popular way of getting to work is public transportation, with just over 3% of workers taking the bus, streetcar, subway, railroad, elevated train, or ferryboat to work. Public transportation can be much cheaper that driving your own car or carpooling and is much better for the environment due to improved fuel efficiency and reducing air pollution. You can also work on other things while you commute or read a fun book. However, you’ll have to take public transportation at scheduled times, and if there is a disruption in service, you’ll need to find an alternate way to work.
Walking is the fourth most popular way of getting to work, with 2.6% of workers in 2019 opting to take a stroll to their job. This, along with biking, is one of the healthiest ways to get to work. Cons include the effort and exertion of walking, if that isn’t something you’re a fan of, as well as what could be a much longer commute time.
Other, less popular ways of getting to work including riding a bicycle (0.5%), riding a motorcycle (0.1%), and other means (1%), which includes surface trains, van services, and other unclassified means. Biking is a healthy option with a longer commute, while motorcycling can be more exciting but less safe. Surface trains and van services are similar to public transportation in that they can be better for the environment but force you to stick to a transportation schedule.
At the end of the day, the right way of getting to work will depend on your own life situation and what you enjoy most. But the transportation landscape is constantly changing, and we’re likely to see even more options pop up in the coming years.