The cost of commuting to Silicon Valley

Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft employ tens thousands of people in the San Francisco Bay area including many talented people driving close to 100 miles round-trip every day to work for these big companies. AAA released today their 2006 driving costs report and I decided to run the numbers to associate a conservative cost with a commute to these companies.

How much would it cost to drive a Toyota Camry to work every day from the city centers of San Francisco, Berkeley, or Alameda? Prices below include conservative costs from AAA for average fuel consumption, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration, loan finance charges and depreciation costs. AAA estimates a per-mile cost of $0.49.

According to the median Senior Web Developer in Sunnyvale is paid $99,000. Commute costs from San Francisco would account for about 14.3% of this person’s salary after taxes.

Commute costs

San FranciscoBerkeleyAlameda

A monthly pass on San Francisco public transit is $45, or $540 a year. Can local startups compete for talent with these multi-thousand person companies? I think so.

Costs likely higher

The cost-per-mile used by AAA includes national average numbers that are cheaper than urban centers such as San Francisco where it costs more to insure a car or hire a mechanic. The AAA cost-per-mile number uses last year’s gas price of $2.405 a gallon and not the current price of $2.717, a 13% increase.

Behind the numbers

Milage includes a roundtrip drive from 4th & Market in San Francisco, University & Shattuck in Berkeley, or Park & Encinal in Alameda including bridge fare. Not included is the two hours one might spend in the car every day when driving with no traffic.

Yes, I know there are public transit options. Some companies offer a free shuttle either for the entire trip or from train stations. Public transit from the East Bay to Silicon Valley does not seem to exist, but CalTrain is one option from San Francisco.