Why is affordable public transport so important

The car was once considered the German status symbol. That has changed: Young city dwellers in particular prefer car sharing or local public transport. There are ideological as well as financial reasons for this: Cars are considered more expensive than the alternatives. But is that really what they are? For all?

New invoices from the Verivox comparison platform offer a first approximation. It calculated an example of how much singles and families in a city would have to pay for a life with or without a car.

Scenario 1: The family of four

The first scenario was about a family of four who live in Berlin. One parent uses the car to get to work and run small errands, as well as for trips and family vacations once a year. In addition, there are public transport tickets for the second parent and both children, since the car is parked at the place of work with parent one during the day. According to Verivox, the total costs of this scenario amount to 6,256 euros per year. This includes fuel costs, workshop, depreciation, local transport as well as taxes and insurance.

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If the second parent would prefer to drive a car rather than using local transport, the costs increase significantly. Since only local transport is cheaper, but all other points increase significantly, the family would have to pay 7539 euros here every year. Paid parking or underground parking spaces, as would be necessary in many cities, are not even included here.

According to the calculation, the family gets the best if they rely entirely on car sharing, rental cars and local public transport. Local transport would be used for commuting to work and school, car sharing for smaller errands and rental cars for trips and vacations. In total, the family spends 6132 euros a year here. From a purely financial point of view, a car is not worthwhile for the sample city family.

The calculations for scenario 1 in detail:

Basic assumptions:
- Family, two children, 8 and 10 years old
- 10 km one way to work per parent (220 working days per year)
- another short route per week (round trip every 10 km)
- one longer excursion per month (return trip 300 km each)
- one vacation trip (return trip per 1000 km) per year

Variant 1: a car

Mid-range cars
15,000 km per year
(4 years old when purchased, 5 years holding period)

Postamount
Vehicle tax &
-Insurance
1027,42 €
Fuel costs998,64 €
Workshop1128,00 €
Depreciation
per year
1896,00 €
Public transport
(1 adult, 2 children)
1206,00 €
total6256,06 €

Variant 2: two cars

Mid-range cars
(4 years old when purchased, 5 years holding period)
Small car
(8 years old when purchased, 5 years holding period)

PostMid-range cars
15,000 km
Mileage
Small car
5,000 km
Mileage
Vehicle tax &
-Insurance
1027,42 €293,60 €
Fuel costs998,64 €382,47 €
Workshop1128,00 €720,00 €
Depreciation
per year
1896,00 €648,00 €
Public transport
(2 children)
445,00 €
total7539,13 €

Variant 3: no car

Public transport (work and school routes)
Car sharing (short trips)
Rental car (excursions and vacations)

Postamount
Public transport
(Parents)
1522,00 €
Public transport
(Children)
445,00 €
car sharing1456,00 €
Rental car2149,89 €
Fuel costs558,77 €
total6131,66 €

In the case of a single, the difference is even more pronounced. Here, too, Verivox has made similar basic assumptions: the way to work, smaller errands, longer trips and a vacation a year. If the single does all these things in his car, he has to pay 4443 euros a year, according to the calculation. With a mixture of public transport, rental cars and car sharing, however, it would only come to 3893 euros. The single thus saves 550 euros if he does without his own car. The costs for a parking space were not taken into account here either. If there is no free parking space available, a car is even less worthwhile for the single.

The calculations for scenario 2 in detail:

Basic assumptions:
- single
- 10 km one way to work (220 working days per year)
- another short route per week (round trip every 10 km)
- one larger excursion per month (return trip 300 km each)
- one vacation trip (return trip per 1000 km) per year

Variant 1: car

Mid-range cars
15,000 km per year
4 years old when purchased, 5 years holding period

Variant 2: no car

Public transport (commute)
Car sharing (short trips)
Rental cars, trains and long-distance buses
(Trips and vacations)

tax244,00 €Public transport761,00 €
insurance740,58 €car sharing1372,80 €
Fuel805,92 €Rental car
(including fuel)
1353,87 €
Workshop1056,00 €train322,30 €
Depreciation1596 €Long-distance bus82,96 €
total4442,50 €total3892,93 €

The Germans' love for their cars seems to be changing. For many city dwellers, costs and benefits are more important than comfort, driving pleasure and ownership. Time for the big financial check.

Another approach is to determine the cost of a car not according to the family situation, but purely according to the number of kilometers driven. A few years ago, WirtschaftsWoche had calculated how much a used small to medium-sized car would cost in terms of insurance, taxes, repairs, depreciation and fuel on various routes. The result was clear: up to a distance of 11,250 kilometers, owning a car was more expensive than the alternative of car sharing or rental cars. Over a distance of 10,000 kilometers, the car cost almost 270 euros more, and over 5,000 kilometers it was as much as 1,085 euros. To put it into perspective: only about every second German drives more than 10,000 kilometers a year by car, only every fourth more than 15,000 kilometers. The route also provides a clear picture - and that makes your own car look rather bad.

The only problem is that these invoices, placed in such isolation in the room, say little. For one thing, the car is still a highly emotional topic for many Germans. If you see your car as a second living room or as a status symbol, it is not so important to you whether you can save a few euros without a car. On the other hand, and that is the more important aspect, many people have no choice at all between a car or no car. Car sharing is mainly used in the big cities and local public transport in rural areas is not as broad as many would like it to be. However, if you live in a village where a bus only stops twice a day, you will not want to do without your car. He can't do it either.

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