I live in Tokyo, a crazy dense city full of people and trains. Almost everyone gets to work by taking the train, but over the past few years more and more people are choosing good old fashioned biking, walking, or run commuting. For the past year or so I gave up buying a commuting pass. Since I run commute so much, the cost just didn't seem to add up. Now one year later I sit down to actually calculate whether I should have been buying a commuting pass this past year. The short answer is: it depends.
The costs for a one trip ride to my office is a 200 yen bus ride and a 190 yen train ride. That adds up to 390 yen which is a little over 3 dollars each way. I have long given up the bus and just choose to walk 25 minutes to the station. I love the walk and do not like the crowded bus. Therefore, every day I spend 380 yen on the train for getting to and from work.
If I were to buy a commuting pass then I have the following options: 1 month, 3 month, or 6 month. I used to buy the 6 month pass and forget about it.
I have been run commuting twice a week for the past three years. I love run commuting. I save time, avoid the crowded trains, and feel great when I get home. Plus I spend time with my kids at night instead of running around the river. Run commuting has been awesome and I can't recommend it more highly.
So how many times do I need to run a week to make run commuting pay more than the rail pass? The answer is almost exactly twice a week! Perfectly what I have been doing for the past three years. I should have ditched the commuting pass earlier. If you run twice a week from your office to home (or vice versa), then your run commuting will save you more money than a rail pass would. Add on top sick days, vacation days, and business trips when you don't ride the train and the rail pass is just not worth the money. Ditch it.
Once you ditch the rail pass you realize every day you run commute you will save money. Run more and you save more money. Finding the motivation for running is all about finding these virtuous cycles.
In case you don't live in Tokyo, then let me know the cost of your rail pass and daily commuting cost. I'll calculate the cost and see what is most cost effective.
Now the trains have improved dramatically over the years, but still they can be crowded. Check out this video for a train station to avoid at all costs: