The true cost of commuting: a comprehensive breakdown comparing cars, public transport, and electric scooters

The true cost of commuting: a comprehensive breakdown comparing cars, public transport, and electric scooters

Welcome to our ultimate showdown over the real cost of commuting. Three daredevils are gunning for the title of the most cost-effective. Cars, also known as automobiles. Public transport in the form of buses, trains, and metros. And last but not least, the dark horses of this contest — electric scooters. 

Read on to see what is truly the cheapest way for you to get to work. Spoiler alert — and most fun.  

Public transportation

closed doors to a US metro wagon

Municipal transit is a necessity for many people, or so it used to be the case. These days, we have many alternative modes of transportation, which are often cheaper and more eco-friendly. But for some reason, we dig our heels in and keep using the city transport without asking whether it's “just the ticket.” So, let's break down the public commute expenses. 

Ticket prices

City dwellers have three main modes of transportation at their disposal: bus, train, or the metro/ subway. There are many less obvious ones, but we'll mention them in passing.

One-way ticket

On average, in bigger municipalities in the U.S., you have to fork out around:

  • $3.41- for the bus
  • $4.41- for the train
  • $2.25- for the metro 
  • If it's a round-trip commute, it will double. With the cost of living on the rise, paying an additional 5–9 dollars per day could be excessive. 

    Source: https://www.apta.com/research-technical-resources/transit-statistics/fare-database/ 

    Monthly Passes

    Monthly passes, which are supposed to save money for frequent commuters, depending on the city and state, oscillate around:  

  • $96.04 — for the bus
  • $167.24 — for the train
  • $87.85 — for the metro
  • Source: https://www.apta.com/research-technical-resources/transit-statistics/fare-database/  


    Photo by Tom Gainor on Unsplash

    Cars are deeply rooted in American culture. We all associate them with freedom, like in the Beat Generation stories of traversing the length and breadth of the U.S. from the driver's seat. So, something as prosaic as a car has become iconic and has now more to do with recreation and status than just commuting.

    But in many cases, cars are indispensable. Without them, you wouldn't be able to move freely because of insufficient public transport or because the distances are greater. The hot button is that back in the day, the costs associated with owning a car didn't hit the pocket as much as they do today. To put it into perspective:

    Owning a car comes with various financial costs beyond the initial purchase. As of March 2023, the average cost for a used car is $26,213, while a new car averages $48,008. However, the expenses don't stop there. The annual cost of car ownership was $10,728 in 2022, marking an increase from 2021's $9,666, as per AAA's Your Driving Costs study. 

    These costs include insurance, gas, and maintenance, among others. Car owners can mitigate these expenses by plumping for cheaper alternatives. Still, they must consider these ongoing costs and explore ways to minimize them to make having a car more affordable.

    Below, we present ballpark figures related to car ownership for an average commuter. It is important to note that they may vary depending on a number of factors.
    • Gas prices: Approx. $4 per gallon in 2023​. Every month, if you fill up a 12-gallon tank once a week, you will have to spend around $200. 
    • Insurance: The average price for full-coverage auto insurance is approximately $1,765 annually. However, this cost can vary significantly based on other factors such as the driver's age, driving record, location, and the type of vehicle.
    • Maintenance costs The average monthly cost for repairs, maintenance, and tires for a new car is about $123, which translates to approximately $1,476 annually. This cost includes common maintenance tasks like oil changes and tire rotations.
    • Depreciation: Cars typically lose around 15% to 20% of their value in the first year and approximately 15% per year over the next four years. The exact depreciation rate can vary based on the make and model of the vehicle.
    • Registration, Fees, and Taxes: On average, car owners pay about $762 annually for licensing, registration, and taxes. These costs can vary by state and are influenced by the type of vehicle and where the owner lives.
    • Parking and Tolls: These can vary widely based on location, but they are not to be sneezed at, especially in big cities. 
    • Financing: The average monthly payment for a new car is $729, while the payment for a used car is $528. These amounts can vary based on the loan amount, term, and the borrower's credit score.

    Electric scooters

    A man in a jacket standing next to his e-sccoter and leaning against a glass wall

    Scooters have come a long way from being children's toys to fully-fledged electric vehicles. They're not being looked down on anymore, and you shouldn't ignore their potential either because they might be just what you need. 

    Purchase Cost

    Scooters come in a variety of price ranges. It all depends on the make, their specs, and what you really need them for. It can be anything from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. To give you an idea, Apollo City, a perfect e-scooter for daily commutes, costs $1649. It may seem like a lot, but if you consider this an investment, the other costs are negligible. 

    Moreover, you won't be stuck in traffic, nor will you have to worry about greenhouse gas emissions as e-scooters use lithium-ion batteries, nor will you have to worry about parking expenses since you can fold them and take them to the office.  

    Charging Cost

    Eco Cost Savings calculates that on average, in the U.S., electric scooter charging costs range from:

    • 2 cents to charge a low-capacity electric scooter
    • 4 cents to charge the most popular scooter
    • 12 cents to charge a mid-capacity e-scooter
    • 45 cents to charge a high-capacity scooter
    When fully charged, your Apollo City can travel up to 43 miles in eco-mode, which, depending on the distance to your workplace, can last you even a couple of days.  


    Suppose you follow our guidelines on how to take proper care of your e-scooter. In that case, you will significantly minimize or even completely eliminate those costs. This is because we design scooters that are easy to use and maintain. It's enough to learn a couple of tips and tricks to keep it in good nick. Here you can learn how.


    Unlike cars, e-scooters do not require insurance. So, it's up to you whether you want to have it just in case. Take note that Apollo scooters come with many security measures, from gps trackers to anti-theft systems. This means that unless you're planning on doing stunt tricks, you should be fine without any insurance.

    But if you want to err on the side of caution, you can read more about e-scooter insurance here.

    See for yourself!

    We have something special for you! Now, you can find out how much you could save by ditching your car and commuting on an Apollo e-scooter instead. Simply click the link to access our calculator. Aren't you curious?


    Compared to public transportation and owning a car, electric scooters are much more affordable in the long run. After you incur the initial cost, the real commuting cost amounts to $0.04 every few days. Even if it was on a daily basis, it would add up to a risible sum of $1.2 or thereabouts.

    It is, therefore, no surprise that the title of the most cost-effective mode of commuting goes to electric scooters! But let's be real, they're not always the most practical choice. It can be tough to ride one in nasty weather conditions like heavy rain or snow. But when it's not the case, they're a great way to avoid traffic, save money, and add some fun to your commute.


  • https://ecocostsavings.com/electric-scooter-charging-cost/
  • https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/car/cost-of-car-ownership/#cost
  • https://www.apta.com/research-technical-resources/transit-statistics/fare-database/
  • Reading next

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    Electric Scooter Safety: Lights, Reflectors, and Turn Signals

    Table of contents

      1. Public transportation
      2. Ticket prices
      3. Cars
      4. Electric scooters
      5. Purchase Cost
      6. Charging Cost
      7. Maintenance
      8. Insurance
      9. See for yourself!
      10. Conclusion