Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

I'm a hater of long commutes (happily with a 1.5 mile one right now), but some of the analysis is flawed:

1) Commuting cost. The $0.17 as a minimum marginal cost per mile is reasonable. The IRS' $0.51 really can't be used as a margnal rate. Simply put, the operating cost of a car is not a linear function of mileage. There are exceptionally high fixed costs, namely depreciation, insurance, (some) maintenance and registration. Personally, as I only drive 7000 miles a year (well below car average), my car ownership costs per mile slightly exceed the IRS reimbursement rate. But my marginal rate is still extremely low - if I drove another 1000 miles a year, it'd cost maybe $200 more ($0.2/mile). Attempting to average a minimum marginal cost and an optimistic estimate of car ownership per mile does not produce a valid estimate for average marginal cost.

2) Mileage to time conversion: I have no idea how he concludes that 1 mile = 6 minutes round trip. Living father away generally implies freeway utlization, where a marginal mile would be closer to 2 minutes round trip. (Anecdote: I live in SF. Thanks to the lack of freeway system within the city itself, a commute may be shorter (and use not much more gas) living 20 miles away from work in the suburbs than 7 miles away within the city borders).

3) Value of time. On a long commute, I'm not necessarily wasting time. Whenever I had one, I deferred actual reading I would otherwise do to podcasts.

I've always found the main benefit of a short commute is flexibility (go home and back in the middle of the day) and reduction of stress (traffic sucks). It is awesome to have a shorter commute, but in no way is it worth spending nearly $250k more on a house solely to live 15 miles closer to work for a typical person.

Yes, the 6 minutes per mile thing seemed weird to me. I live and work in SF now, but I used to work in Santa Clara, and I would do the drive in about 40 minutes -- just about 1 minute per mile. I drove at non-peak times, and my off-highway time was usually no more than about 10 minutes.

Then I started working in San Mateo... half the distance, but usually 25-30 minutes. Off-highway time increased, and on-highway decreased. Still, though, a far cry from 6 min/mile.

But I'm so much happier now that my commute involves only 6 blocks of walking and a 20 minute bus ride. I can even read on the bus! It's great, though the lack of control over my transportation still bothers me.

What bus goes from SF to San Mateo in 20 minutes?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact