Maths and the airport train

People bang on about the teaching of maths and how they never had to use maths once they left school. That might be true, but the shame of it is that the world would be a better place if more people did.

This thought occurs to me often when I talk to people about our decision to use a car share scheme: It’s constantly amazing how poor most people’s analysis of the costs of their car really is. I was hit by this again this morning in the context of a series of recent articles about Sydney Airport and the train to get there.

The train to Sydney Airport is ridiculously expensive with a return ticket costing $25. It is apparently so expensive that most workers (80% according to the articles) drive to work. And the argument is that if the cost of the train ticket was lowered fewer people would drive. Assuming you bought a return ticket five days a week you are spending about $125 on the train. The holding and running costs for an average car, according to the motorist associations, are between $150 and $200 per week – and that excludes the cost of parking.

The psychology of car ownership and people’s views of public transport might well trump the maths – but the idea that driving a car to the Airport is saving money simply doesn’t add up.

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