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Beginner Advice

Commuting By Scooter vs Train


Tony W · September 16, 2020

There has been an increase in the number of people ditching the usual commute by train and switching to commuting by motorcycle or scooter over the last few years.

2020 has of course been a challenging and unusual year for us all, but it has also accelerated the change in the way people work, and in lots of cases, the way they get to work.

Take up of CBT courses, particularly in motorcycle training schools in and around major cities, has increased significantly. London, Birmingham and Manchester are all areas where demand for RideTo has grown hugely, and although Covid19 can account for a number of these cases (who wants to squash on a train with lots of strangers?!) there is another good reason. Cost.

So, can you save money commuting by motorcycle or scooter? and by how much? We’ve pulled together a couple of scenarios to give you an idea. (*Using 2020 as an example we are basing the numbers on 254 working days per year.)

Let's start in Central London and take the location of our HQ in Vauxhall as a base, travelling to St Paul's Cathedral in the heart of the City. It’s a short 4.5 mile trip from Zone 2 into Zone 1. A daily return ticket paid via cash is £9.80, but we’ll assume that you would pay via Oyster card or contactless payment, which reduces it to £5.80. A simple calculation tots up a cost per year of £1473.20. If you buy an annual ticket that price can be reduced to £1444.

Moving out a little further, the same journey from Zone 6, let's say Uxbridge. This journey is now 19 miles, and an annual tube ticket will cost £2640.

Further still to the outer limits of the Tube network and Zone 9, Amersham maybe. This is now a 29-mile commute, only 10 more than previously, but the annual ticket price jumps to £3764.

Let's move right out of London now into ‘leafy’ suburbia, maybe not how Chelmsford would be described, but it is a very popular commuter journey. We are now looking at a combination of an overground train and tube, and roughly a 35-mile journey. The annual ticket price jumps to £5312 (including tube).

So how does this compare to commuting via motorcycle or scooter?

For the shorter journeys let’s assume a scooter, and the best selling Honda PCX 125 will cost you £2,999 brand new from the dealer showroom. However with some of the PCP deals available at the moment, this bike can be yours for £60 a month. So that is already half the price of a Zone 2 season ticket. Obviously you also need to take into account insurance, fuel, protective clothing and security. Possibly parking too depending on the facilities at your place of work. Let's break that down;

Insurance - Obviously prices can vary depending on a lot of factors, so we’ve taken the average price research from GoCompare to use as an example. The overall average cost is £279 per year. The average premium for a third-party policy is £252. Third-party, fire and theft averages at £259, whereas comprehensive policies cost £310 on average. You can get an insurance quote here.

Fuel - The Honda literally sips from its fuel tank and the PCX125 returns a healthy 103mpg, with a tank range of 181 miles. That equates to 11 return journeys from Vauxhall to St Pauls, meaning you’ll be filling up once a fortnight at an average cost of £9.18 (8 litres at 114.8p per litre). Again some simple maths means that's approximately £211 of fuel per year (based on 254 working days)

Gear - This is where the sky's the limit on spending depending on the style of clothing you choose. But if we look towards the lower end of safe practical riding gear, you’ll be looking at approx £400 for a helmet, jacket, trousers, boots and gloves. You could go cheaper, but we have assumed a certain level of performance.

Of course, you could go higher and spend the same amount just on a helmet, but you have to remember that if you choose wisely, you’ll get several years of use out of the items.

Security - Make sure you lock your bike with the rights security, the theft rate of motorcycle and scooters are higher than cars, so you'll always want to make sure you lock, cover and chain your scooter when possible. One of the best new motorcycle locks is EasyBlock, the lock is attached to your bike, make it quick and easy to lock your bike when commenting or riding around.

Parking - Marked motorcycle bays in Westminster are £1 per day, most other boroughs are completely free, and you can move from bay to bay during the day as much as you like. Interestingly electric scooters and motorcycles can park for free. Off-Street Q-Park dedicated motorcycle bays are also free.

You can start to see how commuting by motorcycle or scooter is going to save you not only money, but also you’ll avoid close contact with people, train delays and cancellations and depending on how close you live to a station additional transport or parking fees.

Using the example prices above, even the shortest commute from Vauxhall taking into account the scooter finance, insurance and fuel you’ll save around £20 per month. By contrast, the cost of the commute from Amersham is cut in half with £155 by scooter compared to £313 by train!

The further you travel the more likely you will find the need to move to a motorcycle instead of a scooter. Although a Maxi Scooter is also a good option. A bike like the Honda CB500F is an excellent commuter for longer distances, it's frugal on fuel, cheap to ensure (particularly if you live outside London) and it's also A2 licence compatible.

At £5,599 brand new on the road it is also not going to break the bank either. That's not much more than a season ticket from somewhere like Chelmsford, so by year two you will be seeing big savings.

So if you want to change up your commute, start saving money, avoid crowded public transport and enjoy the freedom commuting on a motorcycle brings, we would recommend your first step is to read about the CBT course here, then contact your local RideTo training school and get the ball rolling!

This information is given to you as a guide to support you in your choice of licence and RideTo has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided about motorcycle licence and training requirements. However, RideTo cannot guarantee the information is up to date, correct and complete and is therefore provided on an "as is" basis only. RideTo accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage howsoever arising. We recommend that you verify the current licence and training requirements by checking the DVSA website.