Priest in the Church of England. Trustee SPCK. Father, husband, son. "Small acts of Good change the world."

Being green, the real cost

Last week I posted a short note on the cost of travelling into London from Buckinghamshire via public transport vs the motorbike. The difference was startling, I was expecting public transport to be more expensive, but was hoping to be able to dismiss the difference easily, and argue that the time spent on the train reading the paper, listening the the archers podcast (obviously not working – that’s not possible in standard class) and having a little nap. But at nearly £50 difference per week I simply can’t.

As expected a few people messaged me on the blog, and via facebook to point out where I could make the public transport options cheaper, I’ve also spent some time this week finalising the costs of the motorbike. The main points made were that the working year is not 52 weeks, that a monthly pass would be cheaper, that combining my train and zones 1-2 travel card would be more economic and that I should include the depreciating value of the motorbike in my calculations. Fair enough, let’s recalculate with those suggestions. All worked out per week for comparison.

Public Transport

  • Weekly train ticket with zones 1-2 travel card* – £90.24
  • Bus daily return to station** – £15

Total = £105.24


  • Weekly petrol*** – £51.74
  • Weekly Insurance**** – £5.53
  • Weekly Tax – £0.92
  • Weekly Servicing***** – £7.69
  • Depreciation****** – £9.61

Total = £75.49

That’s still £29.75 per week difference, or £1547 per year. It’s a much smaller difference, and if I were to calculate the motorbike figures JUST for using it for work (dividing yearly costs by 45 rather than 52) it’s only a difference of £3.69 per week (£79.18 per week).

So taking all of that on board, is sitting on the train reading / having a nap worth £29/25 per week? Not really, especially when you consider that I have the motorbike for use all of the time, and yes I’d need to pay petrol for those outings and yes servicing costs may increase, but that’s the same if I use the train to anywhere other than London.

My headline may be misleading, perhaps being green isn’t for the rich when it comes to transport – but until there’s a solid cost benefit to using public transport over my personal transport; I, and I suspect a large portion of the population will continue to head into the city using their own options. At least I’m not doing it in a cage! Next post… carbon footprint comparason on the journey.

As ever, your thoughts, comments  and correction of my maths most welcome.

* Monthly season ticket multiplied by 12 and divided by 45 (my working weeks per year) to get weekly figure.
** Includes 1 mile walk to and from the bus @ £3 return per day per week.
*** 462 miles per week to and from work, 10 miles per litre of petrol = 46.2 litres per week @ £1.12 – (((46.2 * 2)*5) / 10)* 1.12
**** Insurance = £287.69 per year / 52 (I get to use the bike all of the time so not a fair comparison to divide by 45)
***** 2 Major Services @ £200 each / 52
****** £3000 depreciated to £500 over 5 years = £2500/5 = £500 per year / 52 = £9.61 per week


  1. AndyI

    Not sure what bike you’re using, but surprised you’ve budgeted only 2 services a year when you’re going from Bucks to London.

    As you know, I’m in St Albans, only just outside London and I do 12k a year – or 3 services. I’m on a Honda which has the pretty standard 4k service interval for bikes. You may have a Yamaha, Triumph or BMW in which case you’re lucky with 6k intervals.

    I guess another thing to bear in mind is that every 16k (or so, depending on bike), you’ve got the valve clearance service which generally costs between 350-800 (i.e. significantly more).

    Of course, it’s always better to commute by bike anyway!

  2. mattcashmore

    Very good point there sir and one I’ve considered – I have the XT660 – so a nice 6k interval – but I’m only putting in two garage services (major) per year as the minor services I do myself, that’s the joy of being a qualified mechanic. In theory I could also do (and used to on the CBF) the major services, but I’m trying to be realistic and having 2 services in the bag money wise seems sensible.

    So that’s 4 services per year, 2 major, 2 minor allowing for 24k per year – which I think should be enough.


  3. Patrick

    Nice work with the home servicing Matthew! That’s something anyone should be able to do though – qualified mechanic or not- if anything it helps in keep an eye on the bike in general.

    There’s a time factor involved of course however I think you’ve got it spot on with leaving the major stuff to a workshop and taking care of the minor things yourself.

    Obviously it depends on the complexity of the machine but even changing filters and plugs saves a packet on the servicing.