By Sirinya The Intern

I’ve been thinking a lot about the cost of driving a lot because I am working on a series of maps for our Microcarpool Project.

For the Microcarpool Project, UCLA Transportation selected five communities over 20 miles from UCLA that are adjacent to carpool lanes. Then we created maps with dots to represent where employees live. (The dots are extra big for privacy purposes.) Next, we will be sending out emails to people who live in those communities with the maps and links to Zimride and CarpoolWorld.

We wanted to test the idea of Density Disclosure. What on does that mean? Well, we wondered if people would be more encouraged to register their commute on Zimride and CarpoolWorld if they knew that a significant number of people lived near them.

In our email, we wrote that one good reason to carpool is the fact that driving is expensive. I relied on the Southern California club of AAA’s 2009  “Your Driving Costs” report to figure out the cost of commuting per day and per month between the pilot communities and Westwood.

We determined that commuters traveling 20 miles each way were spending about $200 a month in operating and parking costs alone (assuming vehicle operating costs are 15 cents a mile). A carpooler could could save about $100 per month. Table 1 shows how much it costs to operate a car per month from the communities in our pilot:

Table 1. How much does it cost to drive and park at UCLA per month?

  Community Avg one-way trip from UCLA Round Trip Distance from UCLA Average cost of driving  Average operating cost/mo With Monthly Parking
  $0.15/mi 20 work days $63, yellow permit
  Artesia and Cerritos 32 64 $ 10 $ 192 $255
  Granada Hills 21 42 $ 6 $ 126 $189
  Porter Ranch 22 44 $ 7 $ 132 $195
  Simi Valley 34 68 $ 10 $ 204 $267
  South Pasadena 22 44 $ 7 $ 132 $195

Operating costs will vary by car type and the cost of gas.

Table 2 attempts to provide more information oncommuting cost per day based on car type (Note: This excludes the cost of parking).

Table 2. Operating Cost of Commuting per day from Selected Communities to UCLA

 
Community Avg
one-way trip from UCLA
Round
Trip Distance from UCLA
Cost Per Mile By Type of Sedan
Average
cost
Small
Sedan
Medium
Sedan
Large
Sedan
4WD
SUV
Minivan
$0.15 $0.13 $0.16 $0.17 $0.20 $0.18
  Artesia and Cerritos 32 64 $ 10 $ 8 $ 10 $ 11 $ 13 $ 12
  Granada Hills 21 42 $ 6 $ 5 $ 7 $ 7 $ 8 $ 8
  Porter Ranch 22 44 $ 7 $ 6 $ 7 $ 7 $ 9 $ 8
  Simi Valley 34 68 $ 10 $ 9 $ 11 $ 12 $ 14 $ 12
  South Pasadena 22 44 $ 7 $ 6 $ 7 $ 7 $ 9 $ 8
                 
Your costs may be lower if you’re driving an older car. (Or not, if you’re driving Juancar, my boyfriend’s beloved but battered 1995 Nissan Maxima, and its $1200+ in repairs since October.) 
The cost of owning and operating a car is fairly hidden; the only everyday cost that drivers really encounter is the cost of gas. But don’t let that deceive you!