Amtrak vs. Driving

“I hate driving,” I’m fond of saying, but what does that mean? What does it mean to “hate” something? Are there a list of things you hate and then a list of things that you love and within each list there is no distinguishing between the hated and the loved? I mean I love my Mom and I love Peanut Butter. Its obvious that there’s degrees of love, and hate.

But how to measure these degrees? There’s no Fahrenheit or Celsius scale to help us. “I +10 hate driving,” isn’t a commonly heard phrase.

So “hate” is a relative term. To understand how much I hate driving, you’d have to understand how I hate driving relative to other things I hate. Do I hate it more than standing in line? Do I hate it more than being stung by a bee?

How much do I hate driving? Let’s find out.

One way to measure “hate” would be to find out how much money I’d pay to avoid driving. You could ask me and I’d answer, but you’re not getting a true sense of how much I’d pay, just the amount I’d pay, in theory. Instead, to understand my hate of driving, we’d have to see how I actually put my money where my hate is.

I find myself having to take a quick trip North this week. I could take Amtrak trains and buses or I could drive. Without thinking, I booked a round trip ticket on Amtrak for $106.

So, I hate driving by $106, right? Not really, because driving would have cost some money, too. Gas isn’t cheap. Given, my truck gets 20 miles per gallon and its 270 miles, at about $3.20 per gallon, my trip would have cost me about $86. So, I hate driving by at least $20 or about $4 an hour. By the way, I said “at least” because I might be willing to pay Amtrak more than what I paid (but don’t tell Amtrak!).

Also, I’m neglecting some other benefits of using Amtrak rather than driving. In theory, because I won’t be occupied with driving the truck, I’ll be able to study for my final exams coming up on Wednesday. This obviously is a benefit that would undermine my measure of hate. I’m paying for Amtrak to reduce my total hate (if that means anything) by driving for me AND I’m buying from them a couple hours of study time that I wouldn’t have had. I have no clue how to measure an hour of studying, though. In any case, because of these extra benefits, my lower bound on my estimate of hate is somewhere below $4.

So, do you hate driving? If so, by how much?

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8 Responses to “Amtrak vs. Driving”


  1. 1 *fumiko* June 13, 2006 at 11:43 pm

    you know…it’s good that we have you around in this world, otherwise who would think about shit like this?
    I like to think that I like driving… because it gives me freedom to go places when ever I want. But I also like public transportation. I especially dislike American public transportation, because it’s never on time, too many delays, and it smells bad. Since I’ve been using Japanese PT, it’s very nice to know that the train not only comes every 10 min, but also come right on time! (It’s weird, it doesn’t even miss a sec!!!)
    But here is a thought. Is it that you really don’t like driving, or is it that you want to spend your time wisely? Because I like driving itself, but I rather not drive long distance if I can avoid it because I have better things to do.
    What if you can only sit in the train doing absolutely nothing: no sleeping, no studying, no listening to music, no reading…..would you still pay the same amount? Or would you rather drive?
    Also, if you only hate driving by $4, you must not hate it that much.

  2. 2 Will June 13, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    $4 times about an hour a day of driving times 365 days times 60 years esta mucho diniro, no?

  3. 3 *fumiko* June 14, 2006 at 3:27 am

    $4 x 24hr x 365days x 60 years = $21,024,000

  4. 4 Will June 14, 2006 at 4:15 am

    Ok, if that’s not that much money, then you’ll have no problem writing me a check for 20 grand. 🙂

  5. 5 Jeremy Shaw June 20, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    Whenever I drive long distances I just imagine myself as a little ant traversing a very small distance on this huge ball of rock. What we must look like to greater intelligent beings scurrying about this place. Too bad Seinfeld was cancelled. This topic would probably make a great episode.

  6. 6 Will June 20, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    Right, but does the Ant hate what he’s doing when does tranverse? What would he be willing to give you for you to pick him up and move him to the spilt food or wherever he’s headed?

    🙂

  7. 7 Jeremy June 23, 2006 at 1:02 am

    That is my point exactly. How much to we have to pay to the space aliens to give us space folding technology.

  8. 8 ギャビン August 11, 2006 at 8:13 am

    Do you get any satisfaction out of the view that you get to enjoy while riding the train? The ability to go use the restroom on a whim? The vending machine a few cars a way? I’m not adding anything new here, only expanding on what you’ve already established. There might be a lot more to that $4/hr. than just some extra time.


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