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Commuting in LA Without a Car

$18/day for an Uber to commute to and from work in Los Angeles.

It’s a 7.5 mile commute and since I work in a Primary Care clinic, I would be heading into work during peak traffic times and leaving work also in peak traffic.

It takes about 35-45 minutes to drive this distance in a car. It would be about 1 hour on the bus, which wouldn’t include talking to/from the bus station.

Peripheral Cost of Car Ownership

I won’t bore you with my endless list of automobile expenses. Having owned an auto-mechanic shop before, I am quite familiar with the depreciation of an automobile.

But think about the headaches of parking and keeping the car clean and maintenance and keeping it safe in Los Angeles. I would have to gas it up, I would have to change tires, and fix windshield cracks. What a nightmare.

Ride Sharing Fees

Uber in Los Angeles has a few payment options.

  • Uber Pool
  • Uberx
  • Uber Comfort

So, I could pay $9, $19, or $21 to get to my destination. Uber Pool is the cheapest because I would share the ride with others who are on the same route.

This is great because it makes the best use of an Uber car when commuting in LA, maximizing its occupancy. It’s also ideal because I save nearly 50% on the cost of the ride.

The downside is that it takes a little longer. My ride today was:

  • 9 miles
  • 29 minutes
  • $9.82

And no, I didn’t leave a tip.

Convenience with Ride Sharing

The nicest thing about Ride Sharing with Uber is that I can request a car on my phone anywhere I’m at. Today I was enjoying a delicious organic espresso (for $4.50…) and when I was ready I requested an Uber.

With Uber Pool you walk about 2-5 minutes to meet the Uber driver. Most of the time I walk 2 minutes.

Even better, I get dropped off at my exact destination. I don’t have to worry about parking, I go right into the clinic.

Commuting in LA Without a Car – Stress

I’m convinced that the stress of traffic is having to navigate it. Sitting in traffic if you’re not the driver really isn’t that bad.

I grew up with LA traffic, commuting from West LA to Pasadena regularly. I was dreading traffic when I accepted this gig in Central LA. But sitting in the backseat like a king, listening to my music, podcast, or audio-book while doing my kegels … amazing.

Car Accident and Tickets

Just this morning I saw a lady get pulled over by a bike cop. And I saw a dude drop his motorcycle when the car in front of him stopped too quickly.

Accidents happen and getting traffic and parking tickets are the norm in LA. I don’t have to worry about any of that shit when I’m hailing an Uber. In fact, I’m offloading that cost and that risk on someone else.

Car Maintenance

Driving in stop-and-go traffic chews up your car like nothing else. The brakes, the pistons, and the drive-train all take a beating because of the many stops and accelerations.

I’ve gotten into a few Ubers where there was a windshield crack or a the engine was sounding like it had a few screws loose. That’s something the owner is likely dreading and will have to fix soon.

The Cost

I work 4 days a week and pay about $18 per workday. That’s $288 every month, give or take. That’s less than owning a car. And that’s definitely less than renting a car.

Renting a car would have cost me at least double that. Not to mention that I would have to babysit it on days when I’m not using it, moving it from one parking spot to another, etc.

I priced out a rental with Enterprise and it would have been at minimum $1,500/month. I could have rented from a car-sharing service but that wouldn’t have been cheaper than Uber Pool.

Car Ownership

I’ve been able to avoid owning a car ever since I decided to leave San Diego. Looking back now, I could have stayed in San Diego and still managed to remain car free.

Portland was a very easy city to live without a car. And Spain, of course, even better. In fact, having a car in Spain is just an added luxury.

It’s hard to explain how nice it is to not own a car. The freedom of commuting in LA without a car is incredible. And you think you can’t do with out it, until you try it and realize you can.

Sure, when I see a brand new Tesla or a gorgeous Mercedes rolling down the street, I wonder how nice it would be to drive in such a luxurious car. But I just don’t want the headache – I only want that momentary jealously and pleasure.

In Spain I have learned to rely on friends. Something I didn’t care to do in San Diego. I always felt some sort of pride not having to rely on friends. But in Spain I would regularly ask for rides and my friends were happy to help out in return for a beer.

Getting rid of my car was my biggest step towards financial independence. Next was getting rid of an expensive house payment. Transportation and housing were big-hit items. That freed up more money to put towards investments.

4 replies on “Commuting in LA Without a Car”

Tipping is such a useless aspect of US culture. I hate how people tip shame out here. You have no obligation to tip people who work tipping jobs…perhaps that person should get a better paying job?

I don’t feel the need to tip just because I should. But if there is a cafe which I frequent, I like leaving a great tip when I can. Not only do I get better service but I also feel like I’m supporting a place and the workers whom I would love to keep seeing there. My friends here in LA say that if you don’t tip the Uber driver well then they won’t give you a good rating which can affect your chance of getting a ride. I suppose that’s possible but that hasn’t happened to me yet.

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