Uber Is the Cheaper Commute Option in 3 California Cities

Studies
Uber Is the Cheaper Commute Option in 3 California Cities

When it comes to getting to and from work each day, Californians have options. For those who own a car and drive, a new analysis finds that ditching the car and using Uber could be the cheaper commute option in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

The NerdWallet analysis examined data for the 20 most populous U.S. metro areas and calculated the cheaper commute option between taking Uber or owning and driving a personal vehicle. Uber is the thriftier choice in eight of those 20 metro areas, including three in California. In Riverside, however, driving yourself to work was the cheaper option.

When opting for Uber, San Franciscans could save $83 each week, the biggest savings using the rideshare service in all 20 metro areas analyzed. Uber saved Los Angeles drivers $27 a week and commuters in San Diego $16 weekly. In Riverside, commuters who drive themselves could save $38 a week over Uber.

The analysis included median commute distances in each area and considered weekly driving costs such as gas, parking, car insurance and vehicle wear-and-tear. These costs were compared with UberPool rates when the cheaper option was available, and UberX when it wasn’t. Riverside was the only California metro area without UberPool at the time of the analysis in mid-February.

Driving yourself to and from work each day is expensive in San Francisco, with total costs at $198 a week, the analysis found. Only New York is more expensive with overall weekly commute costs hitting $218.

The biggest commute-related expense in San Francisco is parking at $101 a week and 51% of all weekly costs — more than any other California metro area analyzed.

Insurance in San Francisco accounted for just 13% of weekly commute costs, which was less than all of the other metro areas and far less than Los Angeles, where insurance made up 30% of costs. But the City by the Bay doesn’t have cheap car insurance; it costs an average of $26 a week, according to the analysis, compared with a weekly cost of $18 for insurance in Minneapolis, the place that’s the least expensive of all 20 metro areas.

Click here to read the complete results and methodology.

Elizabeth Renter is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ElizabethRenter.