Monday, December 26, 2005

COMMUTE: 2005 Phi-NYC Year End Wrap Up ($6,084 EOY total)

Though I started this blog only in October 2005, I have been keeping track of my commuting details for the entire year. For each month I'll note the ticket type I bought, the cost for the month, AGR tickets used if any, and total number of one way trips in the month. I'll then break down total commuting related costs, total number of trips between Philly and New York, and Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) used for the entire year 2005.

2005 Monthly Breakdowns:
  • January 2005
    • Bought Monthly Pass for $597 (+$20 for upgrades to metroliner/acela)
    • Took 26 one way trips total this month
  • February 2005
    • Monthly $597
    • 22 total one way trips
  • March 2005
    • Monthly $597
    • 24 total one way trips
  • April 2005
    • Smart Pass 10 Trip Ticket $375
    • Used 9 Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) Tickets
    • 19 total one way trips
  • May 2005
    • Smart Pass 10 Trip Ticket $375
    • 2 AGR
    • 12 total one way trips
  • June 2005
    • monthly $597
    • 24 total one way trips
  • July 2005
    • Monthly $633
    • 20 total one way trips
  • August 2005
    • Monthly $633
    • 26 total one way trips
  • September 2005
    • Monthly $633
    • 18 total one way trips
  • October 2005
    • Monthly $633
    • 28 total one way trips
  • November 2005
    • Smart Pass 10 Trip Ticket $394
    • 9 AGR
    • 20 total one way trips
  • December 2005
    • 3 AGR
    • 10 total one way trips
2005 Year End Totals:
  • Total Phi-NYC Commuting Cost for 2005: $6,084
    • This is an accurate number
  • Total one way trips between Phi-NYC for 2005: 249
    • This total may be off by a few but the yearly average of a little over 20 one way trips per month is good.
  • Total number of Amtrak Guest Rewards Tickets applied toward commute: 23
  • Highest number of one way trips in a month: 28 (October)
  • Fewest number of one way trips in a month: 10 (December)
2005 Conclusions:
Commuting to NYC from Philly cost me on average a little over $500/month over the course of a year. I used 57,500 Amtrak Guest Rewards points towards my commute in 2005. This saved me a good amount of money as I did not have to buy a monthly pass certain months, but only a 10 trip and supplement the remaining with AGR tickets. The savings was $222 in April, $222 in May, $239 in November, and $394 in December; for a year end total of $1,077 in savings. This makes the AGR points program worth about 2 cents per point ($1,077/57,500 =~ .02). Compared to other points programs where I could have directed my efforts, AGR provides a good yield. See my post in this blog on why any regular Amtrak commuter needs to be an AGR Member: Amtrak Guest Rewards, a must for regular Amtrak commuters and how it will save me $800 the next two months

The on time performance of the Amtrak trains I took I would estimate at between 60% and 70%. Generally Amtrak service is good though I would prefer the on time performance to be better. My worst commuting experience (which I think was sometime over the summer) was when service was disrupted between Trenton and Philly and I had to take a Septa bus to 30th Street Station. The commute home that night was nearly 4 hours.

2006 Expectations:
I'll be paying more for my Phi-NYC commute in 2006 due to the huge fare increases Amtrak has been implementing. Amtrak's generally unfavorable political situation also doesn't help things. How much more $ I'll be spending in '06 I'm not exactly sure yet. I also have not finalized my plan for 2006 to keep costs as low as possible. Ideally I'd like to keep the monthly rate under $600. This will likely be a challenge as the point total to cash in AGR points for free tickets will rise from 2,500 to 3,000 Jan 3, 2006. Though my commuting costs will rise in 2006, and though I don't have a clear plan yet, I still feel I can make the finances work within my budget.


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