Travel Expenses

10 Jun

A set of rusty old Amurrrican pumps

My father wrote me asking about gas prices where I am in Seoul, South Korea. It’s currently $4.33/gallon where he lives in the States, having risen a penny a day in the past week, and the increased cost is causing him a lot of grief.

I did some math to compare figures and thought to share it here. He really shouldn’t feel so bad.

1 gallon ~ 3.79 liters
1 liter costs an average of 1,812 Won
so 1 gallon is roughly 6,868 Won

On today’s market 6,868 Won is trading for $6.65 USD,

so gas is averaging $6.65 / gallon in Seoul.

$4.33 starts to look a little better at only 2/3 of the cost of gas here. Gas is still under a dollar a gallon in Kuwait!

I don’t have a car, nor do I want one. The subway ride to work is fast and convenient. I’m one minute away from one station and within five minutes of three, all of which are on separate lines. With all the walking it takes about 30 minutes each way, perhaps 5 to 10 minutes longer than it would by car, but, short of the pollution I inhale, from the cars I don’t drive, the walk is enjoyable.

With my Upass (a 5,000 Won investment that pays itself off after fifty rides), the subway costs 900 Won per trip, equal to $0.87 on today’s market. So I spend an average of 1800 Won / $1.74 per day on travel. Assuming I do that every day, my average spending is 54,000 Won / $52.20 per month and 648,000 Won / $626.40 for the year. True about once a week I get intimate with a bunch of strangers on the morning ride when everyone suddenly decides to take the subway and PUSH PUSH PUSH in the bush errr… subway car, but that is a small sacrifice to make. Besides, it’s never been this bad:

Weekend nights are a mixed bag, however. I usually have to take a cab a few times a month because the subways stop running sometime around midnight, which is likely my biggest qualm with this city!

The basic fare in a cab is something like 2280 Won / $2.21 after midnight. I never bothered calculating how the fare system works, but I tend to spend less than 5000 Won if I’m close to home. I have paid as much as 20,000 for a cross-city trip in situations where I would’ve gladly ridden the subway for a buck if I had the chance.

On the other end lies my girlfriend, who does have a car. I’ve managed to calculate her travel spending as follows:

300,000 Won / $293 per month on gasoline

Insurance is 1,200,000 Won per year, so 100,000 per month

She also has a car payment plan, which is 300,000 Won per month

Altogether that’s 700,000 Won / $681.50 per month,

which doesn’t include the occasional car wash and maintenance fees, which has already been a problem even though the car is one year old!

Thus, she pays more in a single month than I do in a year. Crazy!

She admitted to paying as much as 900,000 Won in a single month for car-related expenses.

Even if I exclude those extra costs, the total still amounts to 8,400,000 Won / $8198 for the year.

I just don’t see how it’s worth it.

And things can only get more expensive.

Even assuming no car payment and a car that runs perfectly forever (yeah right), the cost would still be 400,000 Won a month, which doesn’t sound TOO bad, but then again street traffic can be pretty horrendous and unpredictable in the city:

which doesn’t usually happen on the subway, where travel times tend to be consistent and calculable. In short, I love public transportation! and as long as I live in a big city I’m going to use it. I’d be happy to never own a car again. I literally save thousands of dollars by taking the subway.


What about you?

How much do you spend to get from A to B?

Have you made any sacrifices to balance out the rising costs of transport? If so what?


Posted by on June 10, 2008 in Seoul Days


Tags: , , ,

3 responses to “Travel Expenses

  1. Sam

    June 12, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Nice numbers. Ju Hee was one of the 2.5 million traffic offenders recently pardoned by 2MB, so I’ll show them to her if she starts hssling me to get a car again.

  2. Jade Anderson

    July 21, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Great info. I will be visiting the military installations and needed to know how much money I needed for a taxi each day.

  3. corie

    September 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    the transportation fare, the cost of gasoline, and the cab fare… it’s kinda cheap…at least from what i’ve expected…


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