4 Rules to Save Money Using Public Transportation

I have great news, Frugal Feministas!! Our team is growing. I am excited to announce that Dr. Maria James, Money Scientist and founder of Pocket of Money will be regularly contributing to deepening your financial acumen! Consider this intro a “microintro.” Be on the watch for a bigger intro in one of our upcoming newsletters. But in the meantime, find out why public transportation is good for the soul and the savings.


A common way to save money is to use public transportation. Maintaining and driving a car can be very expensive. When you have a car, you definitely have more independence, but you also have a car note, a car insurance bill, payments for car maintenance, and payments for any car emergencies that come up. Many people need a car to get to work, perhaps you live to far away from your job and any public transportation or during your regular routine you have more than one stop to make and can’t do that with public transportation. That is completely understandable. However, if you do live near easily accessible bus, train or metro stations it may be worth it to use that method to get around instead of a car.

Using public transportation for so many years, I’ve learned a few things. The following four rules will help you save the most money using public transportation.

1) Buy tickets in bulk: buy weekly or monthly passes for the train or bus. These passes will give you a discount on each trip. For example, the cost for the metro (in Baltimore) is $1.60 per trip so it would cost $3.20 roundtrip. If I took the metro to work or school then that is $3.20 per day and $64 per month. So $64 only on transportation to and from work and I would still have to factor in grocery shopping and any other trips I needed to take. A regular monthly pass of unlimited trips only costs $84. If you factor in work, grocery trips, events etc the cost would be much higher without the monthly pass.

2) Use reward programs: search for and sign-up for reward programs such as student or employee discounts. I would get a monthly pass for $20 from my school that would work on all transportation methods in the city. There is also a general student discount program where students get 15% off.

3) Use free or discounted shuttles: search for free shuttles or buses that may run through your area. In Baltimore the Charm City Circulator runs throughout the downtown area and is completely free. DC has a circulator that costs $1 per ride. Check out what may be available in your area.

4) Map it out: always map out your route to find the cheapest or fastest route, whichever is more important for you. There may be a way to get to your destination for free, but if it takes 6 hours is it really worth it? Depending on the reason for the trip and the amount of time I have, I would just pay the normal fare to get there sooner.

There are several advantages to using public transportation and forgoing driving. Some of the advantages I’ve appreciated are:

1) I can get work done. If the trip is going to be 30 minutes or more I may pull up some work and finish an assignment or at least make some headway.

2) I can relax or sleep. Again if the trip is over 30 minutes, it’s a great time to just relax or sleep if you’re tired.

3) The train or bus is sometimes faster than driving. This is especially true for trips you have to take during the morning or afternoon rush hour. For example, Baltimore is 45 minutes to 1 hour from DC in good traffic and can be over 2 hours during rush hour. However, there is a train that runs between the two cities and takes 40 – 45 minutes no matter what time of day.

4) And the best advantage is saving money. By using public transportation you can save money on transportation, hundreds to thousands per year.

Imagine the goals you can achieve with that extra money every month or year. Look up what your city has to offer and see how feasible it would be for you to park your car. You don’t have to give it up entirely. You could just take public transportation to and from work or use it to go to special events. Whatever makes the most sense and is the most economical for you.

Maria James helps busy professionals take control of their money and live a world-class lifestyle by creating money strategies for finance management and growth. You can reach her at info@pocketofmoney.com.

If this post really resonated with you and you want to transform how you feel and think about money so you can live your best life, consider money therapy.   

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