Saturday, March 10, 2007

Transportation dilemma

My wife is spending a week in Portland...from this Thursday to this Wednesday.

Because I become a trembling mass of goo without her, I'm going to join her for the weekend.

If I were to drive down there and back, it'd be about 7 hours out of my life. I estimate it would burn about 15 gallons of gas. I'll mostly be on the highway, so assuming traffic is good, it'll cost me about $40 for the round-trip.

A train ticket costs $75.

I'd be paying an extra $35 to not have to drive, to avoid putting some carcinogens into the atmosphere, and to spend 7 hours grading, reading, and maybe writing instead of driving.

However, it'd also be terribly inconvenient. I'd have to take a bus downtown with my weekender bag and hang out with the public. I'd get into Portland later and have to leave earlier. I don't like having to pay that much extra for something that's basically inconvenient.

What to do?

I've decided to pay the money. I'll have an awful lot of grading to do, and it seems that the money is worth it.

HOWEVER, I'm bummed out about future trips that we make together. It's financially stupid to both take the train back and forth. I want what's environmentally sound to be financially sound too.


Alison said...

I suffer from the same issue - living out where we do, driving is nearly always cheaper, and occasionally faster. For instance, to fly to Maryland, we first need to drive an hour to Columbus, arrive two hours before the flight, spend 45 minutes in the air, and then drive another hour or so from BWI to whichever parents we are visiting. That's almost 5 hours in transit (of which two is still spent behind the wheel) to avoid 7.5-8 hours of straight driving.

I was actually wondering if your calculations were off on how much gas would be required. Mapquest has Portland as being about 183 miles from you. If you think that will require 15 gallons of gas, it means your car is only getting a bit over 12 miles per gallon. I have only the vaguest memory of your car, but it wasn't a gigundous SUV, so that seems low...

Fawn said...

Well, if you buy in advance, tickets are usually around $55. (At least going from PDX to Seattle-- I assume the reverse is true.) Plus, if you have AAA (which if you drive I think it a good deal anyway), you get about 10% off. Also, there is a 2-for-1 Chinook book coupon that makes buying a Chinook book totally worthwhile.

I would say getting to the train station is the most annoying part--keep in mind you could take a cab all or part of the way home to make it less annoying.

Hope that helps!

Joe said...

Personally, I'd pay $35 for 7 hours in a train instead of 7 hours in a car every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But that's because I think of the train as a lot more comfortable and less stressful than the car.

But if the extra hassle of scheduling the weekend undoes that, then put the money into a tune-up for your car instead. Help the environment that way.

(You know, this does make me wonder if anybody runs a puddle-jumper plane route for a comparable cost and less disruption of your weekend.)

GrigorPDX said...

After taking the Portland-Seattle trip on Amtrak in November, I'm sold. It's worth the hassle of getting to the station to avoid the drive on I-5.