Between COVID and Rising Gas Prices, Drivers Face Difficult Decisions

Between the holidays, inflation, and COVID, there are a lot of factors significantly impacting drivers around the country. In mid-December, we asked our very own Metromile customers what was making the greatest impact on their transportation choices right now and heard back from over 7,000 folks.

The biggest takeaway? People are conflicted. While they’re still hesitant to take public transportation for fear of contracting COVID, they’re eager to curb their driving as gas prices creep higher. 

Metromile | Impact of COVID and Rising Gas Prices

COVID’s Continuing Impact on How We Get Around

While driving habits have drastically changed since early 2020, our recent survey results show that 59% of Metromilers agree that COVID still has a huge impact on their day-to-day lives and transportation choices. Work from home reduced the need for many to commute and leave their homes but fear of exposure to COVID has made people more reliant on their own vehicles rather than public transportation or ridesharing.

Many Metromilers commented that even during periods of low COVID levels in their communities, the perceived risk of taking public transportation was still too great. And now with a new variant on the rise and the holidays, respondents are even warier of trains, buses, and metros. They told us they are instead opting for the safety of their personal vehicles.

Getting Creative as Gas Prices Surge

With gas hitting $5 a gallon in some cities, 59% of Metromilers agree gas prices, along with an increase in rideshare prices and bridge tolls, have also greatly impacted how they get around. Customers frequently noted they’re now:

  • Forced to run fewer unnecessary errands
  • Combining outings into a single trip where possible 
  • Planning to purchase an electric vehicle in the near future to eliminate the need to buy gas altogether. 

Retirees noted that surges in necessary items like gas and food are particularly difficult when on a fixed income and are causing them to rethink their priorities and drive less when they can.

Embracing New Ways to Travel

Between COVID and rising gas prices, drivers around the country are faced with tough decisions as they weigh the pros and cons of driving their own vehicles versus using public transportation to save on costs. The rise of COVID cases across the country further exacerbates this problem and prompts drivers to seek out new solutions.

Many Metromilers solved this problem by embracing new ways to get around, including biking and walking where they could. These respondents found the silver lining of WFH and less driving and adopted a lifestyle that’s better for their health and their wallets. We also heard from respondents that both COVID and rising gas prices have led them to more frequently explore their local neighborhoods and support nearby businesses.  

Wallet-Friendly Transportation Choices

Whether it’s COVID, inflation, and/or gas prices that are having the biggest impact on your transportation habits, it’s always a good idea to seek out alternatives to keep your costs and miles low. We’ve gathered some of the top non-driving transportation choices to consider in the new year. 

  • Biking is one of the top transportation alternatives to driving as it is environmentally friendly, good for your health, and affordable. If you find yourself needing to go a bit further than you’d like to manually bike, consider an electric bike. Many cities offer bike rental options run by rideshare apps that allow you to only use a bike when you need it rather than fully owning one.
  • If you are going short distances and running small errands in your community, walking or scootering are nice alternatives that offer a budget-friendly and heart-healthy solution to getting around. Similar to bike rental programs, many cities offer scooter rental options run through apps on your smartphone.
  • Mopeds also offer similar benefits to an electric bike and can keep commute costs low, as they’re cheaper to purchase and maintain than cars. If you’ve never driven a moped, companies now make it easy to start riding. In some cities, app-based moped rentals are becoming commonplace and usually cost just a few dollars. And there’s no need to own a helmet for the occasional ride — these companies often provide helmets in the cargo trunk, ready for riders!
  • Public transportation can still be a safe and cost-effective solution to reducing the miles you drive. Public transit agencies around the country are taking various measures to reduce the spread of COVID, such as increased capacity to allow for proper social distancing. Keeping your mask on and washing your hands after taking public transportation are additional ways you can decrease your risk. For more information, check your local public transit authority to see what protective measures they are taking to increase safety and reduce the spread of COVID in your community. 

Cut Down Costs with Pay-Per-Mile Insurance

If you are a low-mileage driver and drive less than 10,000 miles a year (around 200 each week) you could save a lot of money with per-mile insurance. Your monthly bill is based on the miles you drive, so if you don’t drive much, you won’t pay much. If you are interested in seeing how much money you could save, try getting a free insurance quote.