How much can an average Indian afford to travel? Our estimate is: not more than 5 km each way per day!
I tried to break that 5K barrier using Matt’s dad’s 25 year old Hero Honda giving 50-60kmpl yesterday… and I failed. With Rs. 30 in transport (fuel only) expenses to travel to and fro my destination 13km away, there was no way I could hope to be under my Rs. 100 limit for the day. I ended up eating quiet little, and woke up next day feeling fairly hungry, irritable and weak. Working through the day was also tough and frustrating.
By the end of the day, however, I had managed to gain back some calories, saved on my mobile phone expenses for the day, and was starting to feel better… until another meeting came up, this time 12 km away. Immediately, my budget went for a toss and horrors of the previous day’s experience came back. So I decided to change my mode of transport to public transport, opting to take the cheapest non-AC local bus available. The result? Rs. 32 in travel expenses! Bus travel is more expensive than motorcycles – purely on a fuel cost basis.
My meeting went great, though it wasn’t easy to sit in the restaurant I was in and glare at the prices of menu items – each being in 6-10x multiples of my daily food budget. By the time I got done with the meeting, the travel trauma along with the exhaustion caught up with me. I gave into carbs then by loading up on Parle-G (Yumm!) with my evening roadside Rs. 4 chai and relaxed and had dinner after coming home instead of working out.
So how much can a person with Rs. 100 a day in ex-rent income afford to commute each day? With the budget we calculated, it will be tough to spend anything more than Rs. 10 – 15 on commuting, which translates to approximately 10 km a day, assuming travel costs to be Rs. ~1.25/km for motorcycle (fuel costs) and Rs. ~1.5/km for buses, or roughly 5 km each way. This maybe having serious implications for where the average Indian rents accommodation. Typically for any place within 5km radius of workplace, the rent will likely be higher and would imply smaller apartments and worse living conditions than the sub-urban alternative. Of course, one can use bicycle instead of a motorized transport, but even then, doing anything more than 5K each way could be tough. To find out more on this, we have decided to start using our neighbor’s bicycles in the coming days. Will keep you posted!
Looking forward to Matt joining tomorrow!
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