Your Commute Ain’t Cheap!

If you think gasoline is expensive, consider the overall cost of driving your car. Total vehicle ownership costs must take into account fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license registration and taxes, depreciation, and finance (if your car’s not completely paid for). The American Automobile Association (AAA) considers all of these factors in calculating the cost of vehicle ownership per mile driven. A medium-sized sedan that is driven 15,000 miles per year costs nearly 59 cents per mile to operate.

Gas prices

The average commuter in Thurston County spends about $15.31 per day to drive to work. According to data collected by a Washington State Commute Trip Reduction survey, the average employee drives 26 miles round trip per day in a typical week. Working 21 days a month, the average commuter spends around $322 or over $3,850 per year (parking not included). People with shorter commute distances and more fuel efficient cars pay a little less. If this seems like a trivial expense, calculate your cost over a five or ten year period. Your commute adds up.

Calculate your daily cost of driving: Using the table below, simply multiply your total daily miles by the amount that best matches your vehicle size and total annual mileage.

AAA’s 2014 Average Cost Per Mile

Miles per year




Small sedan

59.7 cents

46.4 cents

39.7 cents

Medium sedan

76.2 cents

58.9 cents

50.1 cents

Large sedan

94.5 cents

72.2 cents

60.9 cents

Composite average

76.8 cents

59.2 cents

50.2 cents

* AAA calculated fuel costs in early 2014.


Drive Less. Save Cash.

Dump the PumpDump the pump! Other travel choices can save you money. Carpooling, vanpooling, riding the bus, riding a bike, walking or teleworking can reduce commute costs substantially. In fact, every state employee who lives and works in Thurston County can ride Intercity Transit for free using the STAR pass (if you are not sure what this is, ask your boss). Riding the bus or using a vanpool can also take the stress out of your commute by letting someone else drive. Enjoy the summer weather, get in shape, and keep more money in your wallet by walking and biking (jogging anyone?).

For many, driving alone is the only way to get to work. If this is your situation consider teleworking at least one to three days per month or driving a more fuel efficient vehicle such as small sedan, hybrid, or electric vehicle. A more drastic approach involves moving to a new home location that is closer to work.

Learn More

Intercity Transit and Thurston Here To There are cohosting several transportation fairs this summer in Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater to help people realize travel choices that can save them money. Come grab a lunch and discover:

  • Bus routes and schedules that work for you
  • A carpool partner or a vanpool group with similar destinations
  • Smartphone apps and online tools that can ease your commute
  • Your new bike route to work and get a free bike map and commuter guide

Related Article: Your commute is costing you more than you realize


Upcoming Transportation Fairs


Thursday, June 19, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Olympia Farmers Market (700 N Capitol Way)


Wednesday, June 25, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tumwater Farmers Market (corner of Israel Rd. & Capitol Blvd.)


Sunday, June 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Yelm Farmers Market (17835 SR 507 SE)


Wednesday, July 16, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (during Lacey In-Tune Concert)
Huntamer Park (Woodland Square Loop & 7th Ave SE)