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Driving vs. Lyft on a rainy day

For everyday commute, I bike from home to Mountain View Caltrain station, take my bike on the train, and continue the bike ride from San Francisco Station to the office. I like it because I can be productive about 50 minutes for each way of the train ride. I also get about 28 minutes of cycling exercise everyday.

It rains often from late fall to the end of winter in Bay Area, I have been driving to work instead whenever I saw the weather was forested to rain. I don't dislike driving, but I prefer being productive instead of fighting the traffic.

Today I tried Lyft to the train station instead of driving to see how it goes. The Lyft driver arrived in 5 minutes to pick me up in the morning (he was standing by at Mountain View Station), and drove me to the station in about the same time. As any Lyft user is familiar, the fare is billed to my credit card through the app, so I really did not have to do anything. From San Francisco station, I went to the office by bus. Overall, It was a smooth commute.

Here are the totals I would have to pay for each commuting method:

Lyft

Lyft from home to the train station (Prime Time) $9.38
Tip to Lyft driver $2.00
Caltrain from Mountain View to San Francisco1 $4.07
Bus from San Francisco Station to the office $2.25
Bus from the office to San Francisco Station $2.25
Caltrain from San Francisco to Mountain View $4.07
Lyft from the train station to home (Prime Time)2 $9.38
Tip to Lyft driver $2.00
Total $35.40

Driving

Parking all day $13.00
Gas 3 $15.00
Unused portion of Caltrain round trip pass $8.14
Total $36.14

Because I had already paid for my monthly train pass, I am including daily portion of the train fare even for the driving commute. Also note that my wife picked me up at Mountain View station in the evening, so I did not have to pay for Lyft back home today. So, the total was really $24. This may be the case in many days, fortunately.4

As it costs cheaper most of the times in the non-driving commute, and I also can enjoy being productive in the train, it's clear that I should not drive to work. Anyways, it's best if it does not rain so I'd only pay $8.14, but I cannot say that while Calfornia is in drought. 5 6


  1. A three-zones monthly pass is $179. I assume I go to work 22 days a month. So the average round trip is 179 / 22 = 8.14. 

  2. The other option from the train station is to use taxi, and that also costs $11 including tip. 

  3. I assume my car runs at 25 miles per gallon, and the gas costs $4 per gallon. Total distance is 47.5 miles one-way. 

  4. The Lyft fare may come down if it wasn't in Prime Time in which the fare is 25% higher. In San Francisco and Los Angeles, they also have much cheaper ride-share plan called Lyft Line, but that is not available in Mountain View yet. 

  5. Update: Day #2. It's raining again today, and the bus I was waiting for at San Francisco Caltrain station in the morning became out of service. So, I tried Lyft Line, and the driver came within a minute, took me to the office much faster than bus especially because I actually did not have to share this ride with any one. The fare was $3.00 + tip, and I actually only had to tip because I got some Lyft credit. Bus is $2.25, so it's a good backup plan. 

  6. Update on Dec 4, 2014: As it is often the case, even better solution was old-fashioned and low-tech: I just have to leave the house early with my car, and park at the lot by the station with $5 a day. It fills up quickly but my day starts rather early, so I don't mind doing this. Sure, the early bird catches the worm (or burns less cash). 

Original post: Nov. 19, 2014 | Last updated: Dec. 4, 2014

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