Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

Car vs. public transportation – trade off 12/01/2010

I’ve had a couple of work meetings since we’ve started this experiment, and our rule about work-related transportation says I should “take public transportation to meetings if time allows”. We knew beforehand that this was a rule which is very much open to interpretation, but I have actually been comparing the time it would take to travel by car to that of traveling by train or bus for each meeting. I ended up taking the car to each of these meetings. To be honest, I really feel that the extra travel time that public transportation would cost me is too much for each of these meetings, but I’m curious about your opinions. What time difference do you think is acceptable?

Some examples:

  • Yesterday I had a two-hour meeting in Genk. Driving from Maastricht to Genk (I was working at home) takes about 35 minutes. The quickest public transportation option was taking two busses (Maastricht – Hasselt – Genk), which would take 1 hour and 40 minutes. Extra consideration: working in the bus is not really feasible.
  • Today I had two meetings in Gent (in total from 12:00 to 17:00). I drove to my work in Leuven first (my normal commute), which took about 1 hour and 10 minutes. I arrived at work at 8:15 and left to Gent at 10:45. Driving to Gent cost 50 minutes. Afterwards, I drove to Oostende (about 40 minutes) because I have a very early meeting tomorrow morning. After that meeting, I’ll drive to Leuven (which should be an hour and a half), and in the evening I will drive back home (which should be a little over 1 hour). So total travel time by car is approximately 5 hours and 10 minutes.
    Taking public transportation would have looked like this:

    • The trip Maastricht – Gent would take 3 hours (by bike – 2 trains and a bus). It would not have made sense to go to Leuven first, so I would have missed the 2 hours and 30 minutes of working time, but I could have worked in the train for about 2 hours (split into 90 minutes and 30 minutes slots).
    • From Gent to my hotel in Oostende would have cost 1 hour and 30 minutes.
    • From Oostende to Leuven would have cost 2 hours and 15 minutes (of which I could have worked 1 hour and 40 minutes in the train).
    • From Leuven to Maastricht would have cost 2 hours.
    • Total travel time would have been 8 hours and 45 minutes.

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6 Responses to “Car vs. public transportation – trade off”

  1. forgreenies Says:

    Is using Skype for these meetings feasible?

    • Karin Says:

      Coincidentally, I just arranged with my colleagues that next week (when I planned to work at home) I can participate in a meeting via Skype! I was indeed planning to do that more often. However, for the meetings I described in this post, that wasn’t possible. Many meetings I have to attend are creative brainstorms, where interaction and physical materials are very important.

      Cheers! Karin

  2. Alex Says:

    Hi, you misinterpreted the bus to Genk.

    It goes to Hasselt via Genk. The trip to Genk, taking bus 45 would take you 50 minutes (station to station).

    so it might actually be an option next time 🙂

    My total travel time every day is 3 hours and 30 minutes by bus and train. By car it would take me about 45 minutes less.

    • Karin Says:

      Are you sure? The route planner on the website of De Lijn says that the trip from Maastricht (central station) to the street where I needed to be in Genk is 1 hour and 32 minutes. And than I’d have to get from my home to central station first, so actually it would be more than 3 hours to travel to and from Genk…

  3. Alex Says:

    you did not mention a street. but this is the bus schedule to Genk.

    http://appl.delijn.be/dienstregelingen/lim/P2/4045010908.pdf

    • Karin Says:

      Ah that’s probably it, I’d have to change busses (needed to go to the c-Mine area). Thanks to the link to the bus schedule though, might come in handy!

      The good news (public transportation-wise) is that tomorrow we are going to take the train and bus to Eise’s brother ;-).


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