Posts Tagged ‘transport’


Quick link — taxi fare comparison

August 13, 2009

NZ Taxi Blog shows fare comparisons between Wellington taxi firms. The top three rankings agree with my perceptions as reported last year: Capital, Green and Combined are the cheapest cabs still.

I haven’t been following NZ Taxi Blog, but there’s a lot of interesting if recherche stuff on there for the dedicated urbanist.

(hat tip to Stephen Clover of the Wellingtonista for this one)


A winter resolution, update 3

June 24, 2009

Earlier: 1, 2, 3

It’s been a month since my panniers arrived. Since then, I have biked to work and back almost every day, in every weather, with the exception of two Friday nights when I knew in the morning that I had a high probability of being trollied in the evening. So I am well pleased with myself.

The total layout thus far has been $207 for the panniers, $35 for a carrier to fit them, and $32 for what has proved to be a quite adequate raincoat. I also needed a new chain earlier this week, and paid $60 to buy one and have it fitted*. I’m not sure whether that should count, but let’s say it does.

That’s a total outlay of $334.

On the other hand, in four weeks I would normally have used $76 worth of bus travel and $120 in taxis, so I am already more than half-way to payback time. I’m about to take a couple of weeks off with my daughter, so there won’t be any commuting going on, but even so, I should be in notional profit before the end of July.

On a non-financial note, my time on the way home, mostly uphill, has improved from 40 minutes to 30, so I must be getting fitter. I’m also enjoying sailing down Mt Victoria on the way in, which definitely puts me in a better frame of mind at the start of the day than a grumpy bus ride.

Verdict: WIN.

*Jack is going to comment and point out that a further investment in tools and cycle maintenance skills would quickly repay itself, and I won’t disagree.


A winter resolution, update 2

May 23, 2009

I bought the panniers. Total cost including delivery, $207. Which is what people want for the same model second hand here. So I’m following my expensive item guideline — buy things that can be resold for what you paid.

So, total outlay (raincoat + panniers) so far is less than $250. $250 is the cost of a month’s bus and taxi fares, so payback time is by July, as long as I don’t pike…


A winter resolution, update 1

May 20, 2009

I resolved to equip myself better and bike more.

In the subsequent week and a half, I’ve ridden my bike to work more often than not, saving approximately $40 over usual expenditure.

Today I laid out $30 on a cheap raincoat from Torpedo7.

I’m eyeing panniers from one of the impossibly cheap UK online retailers that Jack suggested. It looks as though I can get the top of the line waterproof Ortlieb ones for less than two thirds of the local price, if they come back in stock. Once thoroughly kitted out, I’ll be setting myself the goal of four commutes out of five and a market trip on Sundays.


A winter resolution

May 9, 2009

A while ago I posted about getting around, and I may have given the impression that I cycle a lot.

Now that it’s got colder and wetter, this isn’t really true. When measured against hardier types, like Jack, I am a wussy failure of a cycle commuter.

So anyway this morning I was thinking about how I spend more than $20 a week on buses. And shamefully, almost $30 on taxis when I’m coming home late from capoeira class on a Monday and Thursday. (The Number 2 is infrequent after 8PM and it’s a long walk uphill from the bottom of Hapua to the top of Mt Vic, OK?). $50 a week is a lot of dosh to have leaking away: $200 a month, and (allowing for holidays) about $2000 a year. Even if I only save half that, that’s a pretty chunky saving.

I realised that two things are holding me back. First, I need a raincoat to deal with the cold and wet, and second, I need panniers or something equivalent to make it easier to shlep the workday impedimenta. My current backpack just isn’t up to holding work clothes, gym gear, lunch and random crap.

I have investigated improvising some panniers out of army surplus knapsacks, but the fact is that my crafty capabilities aren’t up to it. But that’s ok. Because it’s clear that if I can keep the budget for bags and raincoat under a couple of hundred, they’re still going to be a great investment. It looks as though that’s quite achievable, based on today’s online research.

Sometime this week, I’m going to order some panniers. I’m just waiting for a couple of retailers to get back to me. And I’m going to buy a raincoat. When I have, I will post about it. And then in a couple of months, I’m going to tell you how much I’ve used them.

This post wasn’t actually for your benefit — it’s for me.


The cost of getting around

October 15, 2008

“Dad, you’ll be so proud of me, I saved a pound by running behind the bus all the way home!”
“Oy! You could have run behind a taxi and saved £10.”

Like most people, I don’t live in the middle of the CBD, but I work in town. So I have to put some thought into how I get around.


Walking is free, but staying dry in the rain is a pain. Umbrellas are NOT an option in Wellington!

Walking also quite slow; about 40 minutes into town and close to an hour uphill back. That’s nice on a leisurely weekend, but a bit slow on a working morning. A full load of groceries is also problematic unless we do it together and don’t carry anything squishy.


Cycling is kinda sorta free, but there are some minimal overheads in riding a bike: tyres, batteries for lights, wear and tear. You also need somewhere to keep the bike safe and a change of clothes once the weather heats up. And again, the groceries are a problem, although I’m keeping an eye out for cheap panniers.

I have expensive kevlar tires that rarely if ever get punctures. My lights are LEDs that use very little battery power. I think I spend less than $100 a year on maintenance, probably a lot less, but I don’t actually have records going back far enough to be sure.

Public transport

The bus is the only option for me. It’s $2.25 for two stages with a Snapper card, so $4.50 on a typical day. I have numerous objections to Snapper, as many people do, but if you want to ride at a discount it’s the only game in town.

I must have had a rush of blood to the head or something, but I worked out that since it costs 25 cents to put money on a Snapper card, and given I can get almost 8% pa in a high interest savings account, and that in winter I bus most days of the week, I should put $81 on the card at a time. That is the optimal point where reducing the transaction fee crosses over with forgone interest.

Possibly that’s taking it too far…

Private Car

Yeah, I own one. I have a 1993 Legacy which has proved to be extremely reliable. I think I’ll be able to drive it until it rusts away, so it might have another five or even ten years in it. Given that the depreciation curve is pretty flat now, it makes sense to do that.

I’m beginning to wonder if I would buy another car once this one dies. Petrol is going to be more expensive in the future, I think, and reliable cars lose their value quite fast. If I was accounting for depreciation properly for the current vehicle, I’d have to have charged quite a lot to losses for the first few years.

Anyway, it turns out that a weekly supermarket trip, plus one or two weekly outings around town, and a long drive every few months, costs $1100 per year. That includes petrol, parking (although I haven’t counted all the coins I put in the meter), insurance, maintenance, WOF and registration. I guess you could add on a couple of hundred for depreciation, but the curve is pretty much flattened out now.

That really surprises me. I kind of thought having a car was a luxury we could look at doing away with, but at that rate, it’s competitive with if not cheaper than using cabs all the time. Unless and until we move closer to a supermarket or the CBD, it actually seems worth it. I’m glad I did the maths on this, because my intuition is quite different — and wrong.

But anyway, I never drive to work: parking’s too expensive. And if I’m out drinking, I prefer to walk or bus into town and cab back. So driving really doesn’t cost much more than the petrol.

In summary, finding the sweet spot between convenience and expense requires a continuous assessment of the balance between the weather, the destination and my energy levels. But at least I know what everything costs.

What is your transport strategy?


Frugal taxi tactics in Wellington

September 10, 2008

There are times when you have to take a taxi. We fellow frugal people understand. We do not judge. Perhaps it is part of your frugal car-free strategy, or maybe you just can’t face a late-night walk home. But if you must cab it, you can be frugal at it.

I have a regular engagement in town after work. I end up taking a taxi at least once a week, which is still cheaper than all-day parking and more bearable than a long wait for a bus and a longer uphill walk from the bus tunnel. There are several factors in taxi hire that have a bearing on the final fare.

Choice of firm

The cheapest firms are Capital, Green and then Combined, in that order. When I last checked, they were $2.50, $2.50 and $2.75 per km respectively. The others are significantly more expensive both for flagfall and for tariff per kilometre. On my route home from Courtenay Place the most expensive firms are over $3 more expensive than the cheapest.

Method of hire

All firms charge an extra fee for phone hire, typically $1. Therefore if there is a rank nearby you should go there.

Choice of route

There are two ways to get my house from town: the obvious way, and the cheap way, about $2 cheaper. I have no compunction about telling the driver which way to go, and neither should you. One or two have grizzled, but I don’t care.

Location of pickup

Taxis charge for waiting time, and per km. Therefore if you are in the centre of town, and you have ten minutes up your sleeve to walk to a rank on the periphery, avoiding red lights and the one-way system, you can save several dollars. The advanced student could try timing getting in the taxi with the phase of the lights, but that could be taking it too far.

So, following all these strategies in my case amounts to over $5 difference between the cheapest and the most expensive choices, which is nearly two cheese puffs in any given week, but $250 over a year. I’d like to find $250 in my jacket pocket, wouldn’t you?


How could I have forgotten the most important commandment? Be nice to the driver and make small talk. Not only is this the polite thing to do, they’re more inclined to round down the fair, like the nice driver from Capital did tonight.