5 Ways to Cut Commuting Costs

Commuting to work is often a hassle, especially when it costs you more money than you budget for. A little more than 86 percent of U.S. workers commuted to work between 2008 and 2012 by car, truck or van, according to a 2014 U.S. Census Bureau report. While motorized transportation was the leading option for the nation's employees, there are other alternatives that could be viable cost-cutting measures.

Here are five ways to cut commuting costs:

1. Consider Biking or Walking to Work
According to the Census Bureau report, there is a greater percentage of bicycle commuting in certain metro areas over the past decade. U.S. employees who biked to work rose to an estimated 786,000 people between 2008 and 2012, up from nearly 488,000 in 2000. Walking, another affordable commuting option, is popular among workers in the Northeast, with the report noting 4.7 percent of employees in the region walk to work. Biking and walking to work not only has a positive impact on the environment, but also has health benefits because you can exercise on your way to work.

"13.4 million people spent at least one day working from home in 2010."

2. Inquire About Work from Home Opportunities
Another option that is increasing in popularity is working remotely. With the advantage of working wherever you feel comfortable – whether that's your home office, a coffee shop or library – you could save on commuting while also being more productive. The Census Bureau report found 4.3 percent of U.S. employees worked from home between 2008 and 2012. An infographic by the agency revealed 13.4 million people spent at least one day working from home in 2010, up 35 percent compared to the previous decade. 

Your cost savings of working from home could be substantial. Telecommuting or working remotely could save you money through cutting down on gas expenses. There are additional budget-friendly benefits to working from home, including not spending so much money on eating out during lunch if you are prone to do so.

3. Carpool with Co-Workers
While carpooling is an obvious choice for commuters, this transportation method could result in a substantial number of dollars saved. Think about how many dollars are spent traveling to work separately when you could do the same through a ride-sharing program or carpooling system set up with your co-workers. With a greater interest in carpooling, you cannot only save money on gas, but also reduce your carbon emissions. 

"People who took public transportation saved an average of $11,814 per year."

4. Use Public Transportation
If you live in area with reliable public transportation, you could shave off hundreds of dollars from your commuting costs. According to a separate report by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, about 1 in 3 workers drive five miles or fewer from home to work. However, about 8 percent had commutes greater than 35 miles, and single-vehicle gas costs could add up fast during a five-day work week. To save money, ditch your vehicle and use public transportation. The American Public Transportation Association's transit savings report for October 2012 found people who took public transportation saved an average of $11,814 per year compared to driving.

5. Switch to a More Fuel-Efficient Vehicle
Finally, you could opt to purchase a car with greater fuel mileage, which could pay for itself over time. If you have a 40-mile commute for the work day multiplied by five days, you could end up commuting 200 miles for the entire work week. If the national price of gas is about $2.50 per gallon and your car gets an average of 24 miles per gallon, you could spend $20.83 per work week. Assuming you work 50 weeks per year, gas could cost you $1,000 annually. Imagine how much money you could save if your fuel mileage was improved.