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Car Costs: Low SES & High SES Alternatives (Public Transport/Grab)

Car Costs High Low SES
Read time: 5 min.

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In our previous article, we discussed and analysed how much does it cost to own a car in Singapore. Here’s the infographic for a quick recap.

car cost infographics

Based on the super reserved calculation, it cost about $20,280 per year. However, this is only the monetary costs? What about the costs that don’t involve money? We will be expanding on this and compare it with the alternative options of not owning a car. Just a heads up, we will be exploring the low SES and the SES options.

The non-monetary costs of owning a car

On a lucky day, most of us will be able to get a parking space quite easily, probably within 5 minutes. However, on days when we are not so lucky, this could take up to 30 minutes. This usually occurs on weekends when we visit some popular restaurants. For people that drove to IT Shows, you will know how much you need to pray to get a spot.

It is always important to be alert when driving. Otherwise, accidents might occur. On unlucky days, these accidents were probably not even caused by your negligence; they could be inevitable no matter how fast you reacted. After a long day of work, some of us might not have that much concentration left, increasing the risk of getting into an accident. Of course, there are people who enjoy driving, and this will not affect them as much since it allows them to relieve stress.

Low SES Approach – Monetary Cost

The low SES approach is to take the public transport. For public transport, we will be making a few assumptions

  1. You only take 1 to and fro trip to work on Weekdays and 1 to and fro trip when you are out on Saturday. On Sundays, you just laze around at home.
  2. Each adult trip cost you $1.80. For students, it costs about $0.65
  3. You have a family of 4. You and your partner are working and have 2 kids.
  4. Your family follow the same pattern

Now that we have set the conditions, we can start doing the math. For each day, the public transport costs will be ($1.80 * 2+ $0.65 * 2) * 2 = $4.90. In one week, since you will only be using the public transport for 6 days, it will cost $4.90 * 6 = $29.40. For easier calculation, we assume there is no school holiday and no leave days. Over the course of 52 weeks, public transport will cost about $1528.80. Keep in mind that this is a high estimate.

Low SES Approach – Non-Monetary Cost

When it comes to the public, there are other things we must factor in. Most importantly, waiting time. Let’s assume the total waiting time for each trip (bus + train) takes about 10 minutes. Each day, you will be spending 20 minutes waiting. In a year, the total time spent waiting for your bus or train (following the conditions set above) will be 6240 minutes or 4.33 days. Additionally, most of the time, especially during peak hours, it is hard to get a seat on the train. Most of us probably are standing while on the train, so it lacks the comfort of always having a seat compared to owning a car.

High SES Approach – Monetary Cost

For those who are more well-to-do, another population will be to Grab every day. Let’s modify the assumptions we made above slightly.

  1. You have a family of 4. You and your partner are working and have 2 kids.
  2. You and your partner Grab to work and back home on Weekdays since your work at the same area.
  3. Your kids go to school by public transport, and it cost $0.65 per trip.
  4. On Saturday and Sunday, the family go out for family time. You take 1 to and fro Grab on each day.
  5. Grab costs $25 per trip.

Let’s calculate all the price spent on Grab first. For each week, $25 * 7 * 2 = $350. In a year with 52 weeks, this will cost $18,200. As for kids, the per week costs will be $0.65 * 5 * 2 = $6.50. In a year, that will be $6.50 * 52 = $338. Totalling this 2 up, it will cost $18,588 for the high SES approach. Again, note that this is a semi-high estimate.

High-SES Approach – Non-Monetary Cost

For Grab, most of the time we do have to wait for the driver to come and it will take about 5 minutes. In a week, 70 minutes will be spent on waiting. In a year, that will be 3640 minutes or 2.52 days. The advantage of Grabbing is that you get to have your own seats. The downsides are plenty of unfortunate occasions such as your Grab driver losing his way, or a horrendous experience in general. 

Brief summary of the benefits

So far, we have only been talking about costs. What about the benefits of each of these options? For drivers, owning a car could be essential for certain people as their occupation may require them to display some level of status. As mentioned above, people that enjoy driving can also wind down after a hectic day at work during their trip home.

Environmental friendly people will love the low SES option. The emission by a bus packed by 100 people is much lesser if these people choose to drive or pursuit the high SES option. Our train is also powered by electricity, so no carbon monoxide is emitted.

If you are choosing the High SES option, you have a personal chauffeur! Sort of. You can play your games, listen to some music, read some books or whatever that help you to relax after a hard day at work. For the chatterbox, you can have fun conversing with your driver. Who knows, on the rare occasion, perhaps a Ferrari will be your Grab ride for the evening.

Whichever options depend on how much you value these different costs and benefits. Some are willing to save money and sacrifice that extra time. Others may appreciate their time much more and are eager to fork out that extra cash. Our objective is to lay out all these things on the table and help you make a decision.


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