Tag Archives: data nerd

Living Car-Free Saves Me $7000 per Year

Modo Car with a Bike Rack
When I moved to Vancouver six years ago, I made two crucial decisions that have saved me thousands of dollars – I bought a bike and joined the car co-op.

Being a data nerd, I’ve kept detailed records of all my spending for the past decade (first in a spreadsheet, then in Quicken, and now in mint.com). I went back through my records to see how much I’ve spent on transportation since moving to Vancouver. In six years, I’ve spent nearly nearly $8000 getting around by bike, public transit, taxi, car sharing, and car rentals. That’s less than what most people spend on their car in 1 year.

Note: Updated charts with 2013 data are available here

According to CAA, the annual cost of owning a car (driven for 12,000 km per year) ranges from $7,723.72 for a Civic to $10,465.12 for an Equinox. When you don’t drive much, 80% of the cost of car ownership is fixed costs (insurance, license and registration, loan payments, and depreciation). Only 20% is proportional to the distance driven (gas and maintenance). CAA doesn’t include the cost of parking, which can be quite expensive in Vancouver. In my building, it costs $100/month for a parking spot.
Transportation Expenses by Year Pie
My expenses have averaged $1257 per year since I moved to Vancouver, almost equally split between car rentals, car sharing, cycling, and public transit (including taxis).

Transportation Expenses by Year Chart
Cycling is my main form of transportation, and most years it costs less than $200 to service my bike (new parts and maintenance). I purchased a bike in 2006 and 2009, spending an extra $500 (my commuter bike isn’t that expensive).

Bike LineupNormally, I don’t use the bus that often (it’s faster to bike), but in 2008 and 2009 I was working in West Vancouver and commuted a lot by bus (2 zones), which explains the higher public transit costs those years. Otherwise, I spend less than $200 per year on bus tickets and cab rides.

Living in Vancouver, the times I need a vehicle are rare. When I’m buying furniture or playing in the North Shore mountains, I often use a car sharing vehicle from Modo. In the past year, I’ve started using car2go for short trips when public transit and biking are inconvenient. For traveling around BC, I often rent a vehicle from Enterprise. car2go VancouverThe cost of each car trip is high (a car rental for a long weekend is between $100-$200, plus gas), but I only rent a car once or twice a year. My car sharing trips with Modo average $30 (including gas). Even though I only drive a few times a year, the cost of renting a vehicles and using car sharing accounts for more than 50% of my “car-free” transportation budget. But I appreciate the flexibility I have to get a car when I need one, and it is still way cheaper than owning a dedicated vehicle.

Now, it can be argued that living close to downtown Vancouver, where a car-free lifestyle is easy, is costing me more for rent. Which is true, but it’s an easy tradeoff to make for a healthy lifestyle. I’m willing to spend my transportation savings on more expensive rent so that I can replace hours stuck in my car with minutes on a bike and pleasant walks to the grocery store any day.

Vancouver’s Ultimate 2011 Election Map


Building on the analysis I did for COPE, here is a map that summarizes at a very high level the voting results in Vancouver. I looked at the ‘winners’ – the candidates that placed in the top 10 for city council, top 7 for parks board, and top 9 for school board in each of the city’s 135 polling districts. There are a few slates that do well in concentrated regions of Vancouver.

Hopefully this clarifies my quote in the Vancouver Courier about ethnic voting in south-east Vancouver and the split between west-side enviros vs east-side social progressive voting blocks.

NPA Slate – In the 21 red areas, every single NPA candidate, all 21 of them, win a seat. The NPA’s strength is in Dunbar, Kerrisdale, Arubutus Ridge, and Shaugnessy.
Mostly NPA – In the 11 pink areas, at least 18 of the 21 NPA candidates win.
Vision/COPE Slate – In the 19 blue areas, all 26 Vision and COPE candidates win. The Vision/COPE slate excelled in Stratcona, Commercial Drive, and Mount Pleasant.
Chinese Slate – In the 19 yellow areas, the 7 candidates with Chinese last names win, regardless of what party they are running for. Chinese block voting was the biggest factor in the south-east part of the city – Renfrew-Collingwood, and Kensington.
Green/Vision/COPE – With the addition of Green candidates things get a bit messy. In the 26 light green areas, the Green Party elects at least 2 candidates, and Vision/COPE take most of the rest. The Green Party does best in Kitsilano, the West End, and Fairview.
Green/Vision/NPA – In the 3 dark green areas, the Green party still wins two spots, Vision does well, but COPE is shut out. This is similar to the purple areas below.
Vision/NPA Coalition – These are probably the most interesting parts of the city. There are 12 purple polls where all the Vision candidates win, but the remainder of the spots go mostly to the NPA (not COPE or even the Green Party). Most of downtown, including Coal Harbour and Yaletown, plus a few polls in the Sunset neighbourhood fall into this category.
Mostly Vision / Strong COPE – In the 11 orange areas, Vision elects most of its candidates and COPE elects at least 5 of its 7 candidates. These areas are scattered throughout east Vancouver.
Mostly Vision / Weak COPE – In the 14 light blue areas, Vision elects most of its candidates, but COPE struggles and elects less than 5 candidates.
Mixed – There are 2 gray areas that are a mixed bag that don’t fall into any of the above categories.

For reference, here’s the 2008 map created with similar criteria (tweaked slightly because the Greens ran as part of the Vision/COPE slate and the numbers of candidates from each party is different).

Vancouver Election Analysis Maps

Note: Check out the updated map here.

I thought I was done with Vancouver election analysis. But COPE asked me to do some extra work to help their membership understand what happened during the election, and since I like COPE I agreed. It meant less time for Skyrim and posting Vietnam pictures, but I got a mention in the Georgia Straight.

The analysis I presented for COPE probably isn’t that interesting to non-COPE members, but here’s a few reasons I think COPE did poorly.

  1. David Cadman didn’t run. He likely would have won his seat on council. Every COPE incumbent gained votes (between 1875 and 3736). The worst any incumbent from any party did was Stuart Mackinnon (Green Parks Board Councillor) – he lost 3654 votes. Cadman could have lost over 8,000 votes and still won a seat on council.
  2. Vote splitting with the Greens (and to a lesser degree NSV) hurt. You can see it on council, parks board, and school board (see charts below).
  3. There seems to be a split between social progressives in East Vancouver and enviros on west side of the city. Both supported Vision, but the enviros supported the Greens and the social progressives voted for COPE.
  4. COPE had only one Chinese candidate, and he was the only candidate that won.

City council vote distribution between 2008 and 2011
The NPA’s vote stays consistent, but the Vision/COPE vote splits between 15 progressive candidates. It hurt Vision as much as COPE, but Vision had more room to drop without losing seats. Raymond Louie lost nearly 3000 votes and was still the top candidate.

Continue reading Vancouver Election Analysis Maps

Vancouver Election Analysis – Candidate Correlation


This will be my last election analysis post. I promise.

The Vancouver election results are particularly interesting to analyze because each voter had multiple choices to make – 1 vote for mayor, 10 council, 7 parks board, and 8 school trustees. We now know who won and how many votes each candidate got in total, but it’s not immediately obvious why. In the past week, many pundits have been musing about …

  1. Why Gregor Robertson got 14,000 more votes than anyone else in Vision?
  2. Why didn’t Vision’s success help COPE?
  3. How did Adriane Carr win a seat?

It’s impossible to know who supported Adriane Carr or how many Vision voters didn’t vote COPE, because every ballot is secret. However, if we look at the vote percentages from the 135 polling districts, we can do a correlation analysis to try and answer some of the questions above. The high correlation between the candidates indicates that their votes were consistent across Vancouver (the same good polls and bad polls). This should be a good proxy for determining if candidates attracted support from the same voters.

Here are the scatter plots comparing Gregor Robertson’s vote totals to Raymond Louie, Ellen Woodsworth, Adriane Carr, and Elizabeth Ball.

The corresponding correlation factors are: 0.94, 0.93, 0.71, and -0.95.

Even though Woodsworth had a high correlation with the Vision vote totals, she consistently trailed the Vision candidates across the city. Why? Possibly because voters who voted for Vision and Gregor Robertson split their votes between more candidates than the NPA. Of the top 30 candidates (those getting more than 5000 vote each) 19 had a strong positive correlation with Gregor, 10 had a strong correlation with Anton (the NPA candidates), and 1 was completely random (Kelly Alm – winner of the donkey vote)
Continue reading Vancouver Election Analysis – Candidate Correlation