The cost of living is well and truly on the rise, and many of us are looking at all areas of our spending to see where we can reduce costs. With transport accounting for one of our largest weekly expenses, it’s no surprise that Australians are increasingly looking for cheaper ways to commute to and from work.
To help you consider your options, we’ve compiled a list of some of the ways you can achieve a cheaper commute. But if you are still struggling with transport costs, Employment Plus can help. For eligible participants, we may be able to cover some of the necessary costs to help you get to and from job interviews and your first weeks of work. Chat with your Employment Consultant if you need help.
While travelling by car is no doubt the most expensive method of commuting, there’s no denying that for those who can afford it, it is the most convenient way of getting around. This is especially true for those who work a longer distance from home, with no viable public transport options. But even if driving is the only real option for you, there are still steps you can take to reduce your travel costs.
- Monitor petrol prices and buy when the price cycle is lower. There are several apps available that can help you find the cheapest fuel near you. Find a list of apps here.
- Review your car insurance. What was the best insurance policy for you three years ago may no longer be the cheapest or provide the best cover. Be sure to shop around for the best deal for you.
- Join a carpool. Carpooling with a friend or neighbour who works near you and has a similar schedule can significantly reduce the cost of your commute.
Catching public transport
In many cases, public transport is a cheaper option than driving, especially if it means you can ditch the car altogether and say goodbye to petrol, registration and insurance costs. In fact, Australians who commute to work using public transport can save more than $8,000 a year compared with exclusively driving a car (People and Transport National Poll 2022).
The price will vary from city to city, and the cost saving will also depend on the length of your trip. But if you live and work close to public transport, it certainly pays to look into making the switch from the car to the train (or bus or tram or ferry). Plus, in most cities, public transport fares are lower during off-peak hours, making it an even cheaper option for those who work outside the standard 9-5 hours.
Australians lag behind many European nations in their uptake of bike commuting, but for those who are able to, cycling to work is an option that is definitely worth considering. Sure it all depends on your physical capabilities and the length of your commute, but the cost and health benefits of cycling to work can’t be overstated.
While there is of course an initial outlay for the cost of the bike, there’s no need to spend a fortune – a second-hand bike or a simple option from a store such as Kmart is an affordable option for most people. And once you’ve purchased the bike, a helmet, and a light, there are no ongoing costs. There’s also no need to pay for parking – most employers will be more than happy to find somewhere safe for you to store your bike while you work. If you need help to get started, check out Bicycle Network’s Bike Commuting 101 guide.
Pedal power… but with more power
If your commute is a little longer, your route a little hillier, or you just want to go a little faster, then an electric bike is certainly worth considering. Electric bikes (also known as e-bikes) amplify your pedalling power thanks to an electric drive system. There are many different kinds of electric bikes, but all of them use an electric motor and battery to help you power your bike. Most will also let you choose the amount of power you use.
While an electric bike will set you back more than the cost of a standard bike, there are certainly advantages to having a little extra power at your feet, especially for those who aren’t yet confident in their fitness on a standard bike, or who don’t want to arrive to work all sweaty on a warm summer morning. Both the cost and range of an electric bike vary greatly – with the cost ranging from $800 to $12,000, and the range of the battery anywhere from 32km to 160km on a single charge, depending on how you ride. So be sure to shop around and do your research. Check out this electric bike guide from Choice to learn more.
When it comes to cheap commutes, nothing comes cheaper than walking. A decent pair of shoes and a well mapped-out route is all you need to walk to work. Whether or not walking is an option for you all comes down to the distance you need to travel and whether there are safe paths for you to use. But if you are fortunate enough to have a short commute and safe paths, then walking to work is an option you can’t afford not to consider.