December 31, 2010

Commuting Around the Puget Sound and the Impact on Gas Consumption

As the year 2010 draws to a close I find myself looking back at the effects of commuting. You see, for the better part of this year, I was a full-time teleworker. More recently however, our household reverted back to a the more traditional commute to the city to make a living. A situation dictated by the impracticality of using mass transportation to reach our destination.

The subject in this accidental case study is my trusty Passat W8, a four-door, all-wheel-drive family sedan powered by a small V8 rated @ 16/23 MPG. Not a Prius but a little better than the SUVs that dominate the roads. The first half of the year was marked by occasional visits to the office once or twice a week. A round trip of around 70 miles averaging around 28 gallons per month. By comparison, the second half of the year was marked by daily 76 mile round trips in rush-hour traffic averaging around 82 gallons per month. That is a difference of more than 50 gallons/month!

Food for thought as my fellow drivers and I crawl in traffic day after day. All so we can enjoy the luxuries/conveniences of our big/heavy/inneficient vehicles. It is a bit crazy. It is also a good reminder of the impact that our chosen lifestyle has on the world. Have you ever considered the effect of your commute?

There are many alternatives. Living closer to work, using mass transit, teleworking. It is a complex equation the one we try to balance to make a living. An equation that will get harder and harder to balance in the years ahead. It may be time to start working on that...

I think the graph above says it all. Commuting from suburbia to the city is just painful in so many ways.


  1. There are people who think that suburbia and bedroom communities will be the abandoned wastelands of tomorrow. I tend to agree that bigger homes and long commutes does not a happy life make. Gas consumption is certainly another factor to consider. You guys should just move to Seattle. ;)

  2. I am not a particular fan of the big city as it's amenities and additional living costs are not very attractive to me. My vote goes toward creating smaller more sustainable communities that are more pedestrian friendly and the decentralization of business away from a massive central core so people can be better distributed. However it does have to come with more manageable living costs. I think it will be a while before we get there...