Paycheck Chronicles

Tallying Tolls With Your Transportation


I've been visiting family in the Washington, D.C. area, and I've been reminded of how tolls and parking add to the overall cost of transportation.  When you move to a new area, the cost of transportation is an important factor in figuring out where to live.  If you aren't including tolls and parking in your transportation costs, you might discover that you've severely underestimated your transportation costs.

For example, my sister lives out near Leesburg, Virginia.  The quickest way for her to get back and forth to work is on the Dulles Greenway, a privately owned toll road in Northern Virginia.  While there are discounts for frequent users, a regular trip costs nearly $5.00 each direction.  While there are other routes available, my sister chooses to use the Greenway about 30 times each month.  That's $150!  Now, if you've factored that into your overall calculations, that might be fine.  But if you've worked a tight budget and then discovered that you're spending an extra $150 in tolls, then things might be challenging.

My sister, at least, has choices about which way she drives from point A to point B.  I've also been driving to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay to visit my grandfather.  While I could drive up towards Philadelphia and then drive back down again, it is a much longer drive.  The trip takes me an hour and fifteen minutes if I go across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, but it also has a toll of $6.  Shazaam!

On a similar note, parking can be an unexpectedly big expense.  Last time my husband worked in DC, he utilized the Metro to get to work and he paid about $5.00 each day for parking.  Even with the subsidy provided by the Department of Defense, we still spent a lot of money on parking each month.  It wasn't that big a deal, but it was something to be considered when looking at the overall cost of where we lived.

Each person has to decide whether the toll options are right for their transportation needs.  The difficult part comes when you're new to an area and don't have all the information to make an informed decision.  A little research can pay off dramatically.  Regardless of what you decide, knowing and considering all the costs BEFORE is way better than discovering them after you've made a housing decision.

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