Shifting Modes: Car ownership to transit, rideshare, and micromobility
I moved to Los Angeles in 2013. For the first few years, I lived how many yuppy Los Angeles transplants live: I was enamored by living in a beach town and driving for everything I needed to do. Hermosa Beach didn’t really allow for much else. I drove to and from work, I drove for social things unless I was planning on drinking, in which case I took Uber.
2016 brought many changes. Tired of beach life and hungry for more cultural diversity, I moved to downtown LA. I switched jobs. I moved in with my fiancée. Oh — and I stopped driving. This started by accident at first, though.
In August 2016, I got a flat tire while I was on my way home from work. I called roadside assistance, and they patched my tire. The next morning, the tire had visible deflated, and I was late to work. This was a new job, so I didn’t want to be late. I decided to that train thing. On the first day, I Ubered to the train station and took the Metro Expo Line for the first time. After a long day of work, I didn’t have time to fix my tire, so I kept up the Uber-to-train routine for the rest of the week.
Through a combination of laziness in not wanting to maintain a car, optimism for LA’s developing urbanization and transit, and a desire to do my part in improving the environment, I’m now 3 years into being carless in a city where many people believe a car is required for survival.
I wanted to believe that I was spending less money now than I had when I owned a car. Taking Uber/Lyft, public transit, and more recently, scooters around can surely add up; and I have been keeping my fingers crossed that I was saving money and not spending more.
After 3 years, I finally got time and motivation to have a look. I exported my transaction data from Mint, fired up a Jupyter notebook, and used Python pandas to run the analysis.
Work and Results
As you can see, car ownership results in some outlier expenses that can be really impactful. I was happy to see that I am spending less money on transportation than before. Given that I am spending less money and traveling around LA more than I had when I first moved here, I’m happy about the positive effect using transit and rideshare has had on my wallet and planet.
If you have done a similar analysis on your transportation spend and impact, I’d love to see it! Also, if you have any ideas on how to improve this analysis, please let me know!