Saving Pennies or Dollars? A One Car Family

saving pennies or dollarsSaving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers to see if the savings is really worth the time invested.

Darrin said, Being a one car family. I could really use some number crunching on this one. The bus ride is an hour long each way, at $4 a day. The car ride is 22 minutes on streets, not the highway. We were car-free before the kids came along and a scooter + a van until the scooter died. I’m not loving the idea of a second vehicle but I’m not sure if we’re just putting too many miles on the car or the kids when we drive to my husband to work or wasting time if he uses the bus.

There are really two questions here: one about money and one about time. Let’s look at the money first.

Let’s say you buy a fuel-efficient car for commuting. Some assumption:
1. It’s a late model used – let’s say you pay $10,000 for it. You expect that you’re going to get 100,000 miles out of this car.
2. You’re going to have to pay some amount for car insurance – let’s say $75 per month.
3. Your car can get about 35 miles per gallon, so let’s say you’re getting a day’s commute off of a gallon of gas (at $3.50 per gallon).
4. You’re also going to have to pay an average of $100 for maintenance every 5,000 miles, so let’s total that to $2,000.
5. You’re commuting 20 times a month with 40 miles per commute – 800 miles per month.
6. You’ll also have some number of major repairs along the way. Let’s total them at $3,000.

This are back-of-the-envelope assumptions based on the situation you describe. This means that you’re going to get about 10 years of commuting out of this car.

So, your total cost for all of those commutes over ten years is:
1. $10,000 for the cost of the car.
2. $9,000 for the insurance.
3. $8,400 for gas.
4. $2,000 for maintenance.
5. $3,000 for major repairs.

Thus, your total cost over those ten years for the car is $32,400.

Now, what about the bus? You’re commuting 20 times a month for $4 per commute. That’s only $9,600 for 10 years worth of commuting.

Using these assumptions, you save $22,800 over those ten years by using the bus.

Obviously, you can quibble with the individual assumptions quite a bit here, but the math is pretty clear: unless something very strange is going on, riding public transportation will be far cheaper than owning a vehicle.

Now, what about the time issue? On a given day, you’re riding the bus for two hours versus driving for 44 minutes. This means that each day you commute, you’re losing one hour and sixteen minutes to the commute if you take the bus. Let’s round this to 1.25 hours.

At twenty commutes a month over ten years, that’s 3,000 hours. That’s a savings of $7.60 per hour spent on the bus beyond the driving commute.

So, what’s your time worth? That’s really a question you need to ask for yourself. What value can you get out of your time on the bus? What value can you get out of your time at home for another 40 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the evening? Is the difference there worth about $10 per day?

If I were in your shoes, I’d be riding the bus. I could absolutely find things of worth to do on the bus commute each day, whether it’s reading something of worth or doing some extra work on my laptop.

This is definitely all about the dollars, not about the cents.

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  1. julie says:

    Trent, I think you need to realize that sometimes the cheapest answer isn’t always the best one.

    What happens if you have a family emergency and you have to be somewhere quickly? What if you need to pick something up and have to lug it onto the bus?

    An hour each way takes a toll on you. I commute by bus + subway, and it often takes me 45-50 minutes. If there is a delay, I get irritated quickly. Crying children, adults who take up more than one seat, a crowded car – these are all things that build stress on my commute. At the end of the day, I want to get home as quickly as possible. Sometimes I am a minute late, and I’ll have to wait longer for the next bus to come. What if you have to work an extra five minutes, does that mean you have to wait again for the next bus? Those extra minutes at home seem very valuable to me.

  2. Jon says:

    I’m with Julie. I would hate to feel trapped at work without a car. What if you get sick, kids get sick or just want to take a nice afternnoon off. The freedom is worth the money to me.

  3. Gretchen says:

    “Is the difference there worth about $10 per day”

    YES.
    In addition to the above, what if the bus is running late and then you are late to work?

    I’ve also always wondered what a car house hold does when they need to take that car in for long term repairs (even a day). I guess you get a rental.

  4. Johanna says:

    You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of public transportation than me, but even I wouldn’t want to spend two hours riding the bus every single day, and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t count on that time being productive time. In my city, anyway, the buses have such poor suspensions that anyone who’s at all prone to motion sickness wouldn’t be able to look at a book or a screen for more than a few minutes at a time. And sometimes at rush hour, there’s a chance you won’t be able to sit down at all.

    But is that bus your husband’s only option for a car-free commute? Is bicycling an option? Car pooling or ride sharing? Telecommuting now and then? Is there a faster or more direct bus (or train) anywhere nearby, where you could drive him to the bus stop? Is it an option (I realize it might not be) for you to move closer to where he works, or for him to get a job closer to where you live?

  5. Ginger says:

    We are a one car family and it is not worth it to us to have two cars. I take the bus sometimes or we split car use. I read on the bus and relax, rarely is there a person on there who bothers me. If I need to leave, my husband could come pick me up or I’d take the bus or call a cab. When you are saving so much money on not having a second car, the occasional extra expense is not a big deal. We would need to rent a car 30 days to spend the same amount as having a second car, in the last two years I’ve only needed to rent a car twice.

  6. Jonathan says:

    This is going to be an interesting discussion I think. We are a two car household, for the record. So far it seems that the arguments for having a second car rather than riding the bus/train are focused on exceptions to a normal routine. How often do these exceptions come up? If they are rare, then I would argue that getting a cab or renting a car (depending on the situation) would still be a more economical solution than owning a second car. If they are common, then obviously that changes the equation. I would also suggest that if riding public transportation is stressful and julie describes then the second car seems a more attractive option.

  7. Johanna says:

    I’m also not understanding some of the other commenters’ objections. If there’s a family emergency that Darrin can’t handle by herself at home, he can take a cab. Or ask a coworker for a ride.

    And “adults who take up more than one seat” are a reason not to ride the bus? Really? What, are we trying to set a record for the most threads in a row where somebody can whine about “fat people being fat at me”?

  8. Lesley says:

    I tried to go without a car to save money, but I couldn’t do it. It tripled my daily commute, I felt very uncomfortable sitting so close to strangers (our buses are crowded), and I can’t read or write due to motion sickness, so it’s just miserable wasted time for me. I give a ton of credit to people who can rely on public transportation regularly! I only lasted two weeks.

  9. julie says:

    @johanna

    I didn’t mean it as “fat people being fat at me”. I meant it as people who sit down and don’t sit with their legs together. Or those who put their things in another seat. Or those who sit on the outside and don’t let you sit on the inside, even if you ask.

    I had a 20 minute delay due to someone having a medical emergency this morning, so yeah, I’m irritated this morning.

  10. valleycat1 says:

    One of the benefits I always think of in conjunction with public transportation is that I can just relax & enjoy the ride & the scenery or people-watch & let someone else deal with the stress of dealing with traffic & pedestrians.

    I founmd value years ago in my 3/4 commute (by car, as a single parent) as time to shift from mom to worker in the a.m. & decompressing back to mom in the p.m. I often would listen to audiobooks & could complete one a week just during the commute.

  11. Jonathan says:

    I find it interesting how different valleycat and julie view public transit. I think this is a good example of why deciding whether to choose a second car over public transportation is such a personal decision.

  12. Johanna says:

    @julie: OK, thanks for explaining. I’ve seen all the things you describe, and I agree that they’re annoying. I’d love to see people like that called out more often, but I’m not comfortable doing it myself, so I don’t blame anyone else for not doing it either.

  13. Tracy says:

    I guess I’m not getting why the second vehicle has to be a car – why not run the numbers for replacing the scooter that died as well?

    I also agree that it should be about what ‘works’ for the family. Also, on driving the husband to/from work – I wouldn’t look at just car mileage but point out that at 44 minutes (22 there, 22 back) each way, there’s almost no time difference between the bus and the car.

    The question is, how stressful are either of those situations? Does your husband hate the bus or not mind it? (The fact that you were car-free before kids would make me think it’s not too big of a concern). The bus time doesn’t have to be considered a waste, if other things can be done on it, but it is additional time spent away from family, particularly if it’s not a ‘perfect’ schedule.

    Is getting the kids into the car for the ride to/from work causing a lot of stress, are are those 44 morning/evening minutes actually nice bonding times? How do both of those situations compare to the one before the scooter died? And how much would buying a car impact your finances and that stress level?

  14. Tracy says:

    PS. I want to point out that if the husband takes the bus, he loses 76 minutes of everyday time on transportation.

    If the wife drives the husband to and from work every day, she loses 88 minutes of everyday time on transportation.

  15. Jules says:

    I’m assuming that the family lives in an urban area where public transit is more or less pretty reliable (*giving ugly eye to SEPTA*). So being trapped at work and late by a few minutes every ten days or so – that’s my average, over many years of taking SEPTA – isn’t really an issue. More valuable to know is the door-to-door time: my boyfriend has a one-hour train ride to work, but the time it takes to get to the station, and from the station to his work place adds another 40 minutes to his commute. It may be a theoretical 22 minutes from one stop to the other, but you have to ask: is that during rush hour? And would it be worthwhile if you need to spend 20 minutes walking to get to the stops? How often does the bus run? If you miss one, is there another in 10 minutes, or 30?

    We are car-free – I have never owned a car, and neither has my boyfriend, and we both manage quite well without one. Between trains, buses, and occasionally hitching a ride with friends who do have cars, we haven’t found it to be much of a problem. Of course, you do have to realize that we live in a small European city with excellent public transit and sensible zoning laws (grocery store just across the street? Not in suburbia) so I’m not sure that our experiences would translate well across the pond.

  16. AmandaLP says:

    Some quick calculations.

    1. Scooters are cheaper than cars, so lets go with 5,000 for a scooter.
    2. Insurance may be cheaper as well, I found a quote online for roughly 400 per year, so that is 4000 for 10 years.
    3. Scooters have far more gas millage. Estimating 75 mph and $3.50 per gallon, that is 40 per month, or 4800 for 10 years.
    4. Scooters are easier to repair and maintain, so estimate 2000 for each for 10 years.

    Total cost for 10 years is 17800. Still 8200 more than busing it. However, broken down per hour of commute (using the same formula as above), this is 2.73 per hour. A far lower number, and time may be work 2.73 an hour to spend with kids and family.

    In addition, if you estimate that there will be at least one taxi ride per month for emergencies/timing, etc, at 30 per ride, that is 3600. Taking that into commuting terms, it makes the time spend commuting worth $1.50. In addition, assuming he enjoys the scooter, this makes the commute somewhat pleasant, rather than stress inducing. Also, the longer one’s commute is, the lower one’s happiness.

    In this situation, buy the scooter.

    Buy a scooter, and spend time with the kids.

  17. 2million says:

    Interesting. Best SPOD yet. Don’t forget about property taxes.

    I see how this is a highly personal decision. With kids and other responsibilities/priorities mixed in its a murkier decision. However I agree with Trent’s thinking if you can turn that bus time into fully productive time its a huge savings.

  18. Johanna says:

    @AmandaLP: At least one taxi ride per month? That seems like a lot of emergencies, especially when Darrin herself is home with the car, and would be able to deal with many emergencies alone. What kind of emergencies are you thinking about here?

    For anyone worried about getting home in an emergency, it’s worth checking to see if your city has a “guaranteed ride home” program for car-free commuters that will pay for you to take a taxi or rent a car in certain emergency situations. The DC/Baltimore area has one, but it’s limited to four times a year, which seems like a reasonable number of emergencies.

  19. Amy says:

    I agree that much of this depends on how you feel about public transport. When I was young and single I loved taking the El to work. I got a nice cup of coffee and a newspaper in the morning and arrived to work charged up and ready to go. Apparently, it is not that great in all parts of the country. Or I am remembering it as being better than it actually was. Anyway, your stress level and enjoyment of life, while not quantifiable, should carry quite a bit of weight in this equation.

  20. Gretchen says:

    I assume we are talking year round scooter weather.

    If that’s true, replacing the scooter seems to be the best of both worlds.

  21. Matt says:

    If work is 22 minutes away by car on non-highway roads, it seems it might be bike-able distance. Not knowing where this is, I don’t know if there are bike paths or bike-friendly streets – but if there are, that could be another option to throw in the mix.

    We are a one-car family. I live about 5 miles from work (15 minutes by car, 25 by bike – by different routes). I bike most days, drive some days, and occasionally have my wife drop me off or pick me up (she stays at home with our 2 kids). Every once in a while I’ll get a ride with a coworker too. I’ve never had to take a taxi, but could for about $8-10 one way if I needed to.

    I think that if you aren’t a 2-car family you often have to embrace multiple potential solutions for getting everyone where they need to be. My wife and I find that fairly easy to do – it takes a little bit of planning and strict “put things on the calendar” discipline, but not having a 2nd car has freed us up to do other things with our money.

    For the original questioner – is there a reason the wife/kids HAVE to have the car every single day? My wife doesn’t need the car every day (and often doesn’t drive anywhere even on days when I don’t have it). Maybe the husband could drive the family car once or twice a week and use other transportation modes the rest of the time?

  22. JS says:

    My husband and I went to one car about four years ago, and it’s worked out really well. When there is an emergency, we miss the last bus or a scheduling conflict arises, one of us picks the other up or we take cabs. The extra miles driven and the occasional cab ride (six in four years) are still much cheaper than a second car. It certainly helps that we don’t have children and have always lived in apartments with access to transit, but those are the choices we’ve made. We rarely miss having a second car.

    I can see why some people don’t want to take public transit. But I personally hate sitting in traffic and love having 40 minutes each way to myself, where I can relax, read a book, do a puzzle, get some work done or text a family member or friend. I also don’t mind being inconvienced sometimes- waiting for the bus or for my husband to come pick me up doesn’t bother me- and I’m healthy and fit, which also helps, given the greater physical demands of public transit.

  23. rkt88edmo says:

    I’m for getting a second vehicle at low cost.

    A used Honda Civic of Toyota Corolla can be had for 6-7k or less if you shop hard and it will still run for 10 years. Insurance is lower than the example above and you get added insurance of having a backup vehicle.

    If nothing else why not another scooter or small motorcycle? To get 1.25 hours back each day with my family would be worth it to me, easily.

  24. Sheri says:

    We’re a one-car family, with a school-age daughter. We live near a college town, but out in the country, and the bus to our area is only okay.

    I work from home, which simplifies things, but my husband has worked it out so that he carpools twice a week (he drives once and a colleague drives once), and on most other days, he takes the bus or bikes. (It is a long bike ride, but he views it as good exercise and does it whenever he can.) He drives no more than three days per week, and often only the one day that is his carpool driving day. That leaves me with the car for taking our daughter to afterschool activities or appointments–although often neither of us take the car out at all.

    The main issue for us has been some complications with evening activities. It is harder to do things on the fly or to meet up somewhere other than home. In short, making it work with a single car takes good planning and a fairly predictable schedule.

    It saves us a lot of money, and we like having a smaller carbon footprint. We also think it is good for our daughter: unlike so many kids, she does not feel entitled to door-to-door delivery to school and any and all activities. Sometimes she has to wait, walk, or bike, and so do we–valuable life skills!

  25. arvin says:

    I agree with people advocating for getting another scooter. The author’s tone seems to imply that she would be using a scooter now if their old one hadn’t broken down.

    Also arguably if you’re only taking sidestreets a scooter might yield to a quicker commute than a car, since they are more maneuverable. I would not suggest using a scooter on a highway-heavy fast-moving commute.

  26. Cheryl says:

    I did a study at one time on having a car vs taking public transportation or using a cab. It was much cheaper to get a monthly bus pass (unlimited rides per month) and call a cab to take packages home from the store as needed. With cell phones, it’s much easier nowadays to call a cab from anywhere.

  27. Vicky says:

    I have had to become a two vehicle family out of necessity.

    For starters – we have dogs. Big dogs. And city buses do not like dogs on the bus. We have frequent vet trips, training school, dog shows and other events dogs must attend.

    My second vehicle, is a motorcycle. Because it’s cheap, extremely fuel efficient, and convenient.

  28. Jamie says:

    I don’t know if I’m saying anything new here, but I found this article and the reader comments to be so interesting.

    I always had a vehicle, and I still do, though it consumes gas at a horrible rate. So although I own a cars, I rarely– I take my bike onto the bus in the morning and bus it up to work, and then ride my bike home afterwards.

    I have to be at the bus stop every morning at 7:20 in order to be sure to be at work by 8. This is entirely because the bike rack on the bus may or may not be full for the 7:25 bus, and I might have to take a later bus (if the 7:25 bus still has bike racks available, I’m at work by 7:45).

    If the weather is bad or we have an emergency, my boyfriend will come pick me up in our gas-guzzling car. If I know I’ll need to drive a long distance, I’ll rent a car for about $20/day (on the weekend).

    Sorry to be such an enthusiast about it, but because I take the bus and bike, I get exercise, it’s better for the environment, and we save a ton of money on gas.

    While I don’t have kids, and that makes a difference in how willing I am to spend time in transit, don’t forget that this still have one car– So if there is an emergency, Darrin can pick up her husband or he can drop off the kids and take the car. Or, Darrin can drop him off in the morning (to avoid being late for work) and he can take the bus home. Or he can take the bus in the morning and she can pick him up.

    There are so many possibilities and variations… It doesn’t just have to be one car per driver, or only one person gets the car– there are many options.

    (By the way, I do really like everyone’s suggestion that they just replace the scooter.)

  29. Daria says:

    Our area put in a rail system to take us downtown. I had to go downtown and decided instead of driving and looking for parking, I would take the rail. The station is only 5 minutes from the house. I got to the station and the train was there but it wasn’t clear where to buy my ticket and passengers told me you couldn’t buy a ticket on the train, so I ended up missing it. I had to wait 45 minutes for the next train and then the ride was 45 minutes. There was a parking lot near the convention center where I was going with $5 parking. The train ride cost $5.50 round trip. While it was pleasant, I won’t do it again because the car would have wasted less time and my job lets me put in for mileage reimbursement. By the way, the mayor of one of the surrounding towns rode the train for free because she couldn’t find where to buy her ticket at the station and she took the risk of getting caught instead of waiting for the next train. She didn’t get caught. They had a person on the train, counting you as got on, but did not check for tickets. They only spot check. I thought it was ridiculous to have a person on the train reading for most of the ride instead of checking for tickets. When my husband worked downtown for a bank, he took the bus and loved it.Now. my husband’s co-worker is a one car family and carpools with my husband. The only thing that irks me about the arrangement is that we like to eat when my husband walks in the door because he eats lunch at 11:30, and sometimes the wife has taken up to an hour to pick up her husband because that is when she will decide to run errands. They have never apologized for the inconvenience but my husband likes the co-worker’s company when they drive together so we put up with it. He gives my husband a small amount for gas.

  30. Kelly says:

    Personally now that I have little kids the opportunity cost in time of not being with them is huge, particularly considering they go to bed at 7 pm. That’s why now I pay a toll to save time each day.

  31. krantcents says:

    I would add the intangible of less stress riding the bus. What is that worth?

  32. Penny says:

    Isn’t the Commute actually double that ($4 each way, or 40 commutes per month)??

  33. Jonathan says:

    Penny, no, the OP said “The bus ride is an hour long each way, at $4 a day”. The time is measured one way, but the cost is round trip. Would have been a bit less confusing had both been presented in the same terms (2 hour commute @$4/day or 1 hour each way @$2/trip).

  34. lurker carl says:

    There is an important opinion missing, what does Darrin’s husband think of commuting times, costs and methods?

  35. Steve says:

    It really depends. There are a lot of assumptions in the car calculation.

    Right now my family owns two cars. But we don’t use one of them. My work is an easy 35 minute bus ride, and I am loving all the reading I get to do. If I drove I would have to find and pay for parking. I don’t think it would save me any time at all.

    Back when we still owned one car, I had a different job in another direction. Bus service that way way terrible. It took me about an hour 20 each way. Still, I am glad we didn’t spring for a second car, since the company was also terrible and I got laid off 9 months into it!

    Anyways, I do think people tend to underestimate the ownership costs of a car, and overestimate the value of their time. But I also think Trent tends to over- or under-estimate costs (both time and money) depending on his preconceived notions. So in the end it’s probably a wash.

  36. Mark Gavagan says:

    While every car and repair is different, I think your figure of $100 maintenance per 5,000 miles is WAY too low.

    I wrote a blog post detailing every repair on my car’s 11 year life and it comes to $322 per 5,000 miles.

    Total repairs: $11,546 over 179,000 miles (we bought the car brand new, so buying a used car means there may be more repairs per additional mile than when starting from zero).

    $11,576 divided by 179 = $64.50 per 1,000 miles.

    Multiply this $64.50 by 5 and you get maintenance of $322.50 per 5,000 miles.

    Here’s the blog post’s address: organizemyaffairs.com/blog/personal-finance/our-car-story-by-the-numbers

  37. Mark Gavagan says:

    Whoops. I accidentally left out my last sentence in comment #36:

    “Even with the $3,000 ($25 per month over 10 years) for major repairs factored-in, the numbers in this post seem too optimistic.”

  38. Debbie M says:

    I basically agree with what Jamie (#28) said, though my details are different.

    I would never, ever drive to work because the parking is both expensive and inconvenient. I’ve tried biking to work, but I’m a little out of shape and I really miss being able to read. So I take the bus, which is paid for by my employer. And I find riding the bus much less stressful than driving–when driving during rush hour it feels like everyone is thinking that if only I were dead, they could get where they are going 5 seconds faster. Whereas when I’m riding a bus, I just read. Sometimes knowing that I get to read soon is the only thing that gets me out of bed. (Usually it’s my full bladder, though.)

    I seriously thought about going without a car again last time I switched cars but I just really don’t like it. I do most things (besides work) with my boyfriend but not all, so on a fairly regular basis I want to do things alone. Now that my friends are middle aged, they have ALL moved out to the suburbs – only one lives anywhere near a bus route (besides me). Also, I just love, love, love being able to lend my car to my boyfriend when his breaks down, even though that happens less than once a year. I feel like I lose my freedom when I don’t have my own car. So I get one that is durable and has fairly good gas mileage. My car has better mileage and a better air conditioner and makes less pollution than my boyfriend’s car, so I drive when we’re going together somewhere, and I still fill the tank less than once a month. (A/C matters where I live because I live in a place where we’re all excited that finally, for the first time in weeks, next Monday’s high temperature is predicted to be below 100 degrees. Far below 100 degrees–maybe even the low 90s!)

    I did go without a car for four years in this town once and I was okay except for coming home from parties (always after the last bus). I don’t mind carrying my groceries or laundry on the bus (I consider it my exercise for the day). But now my friends live further out and I can afford more out-of-house activities. I rented a car about twice a year to make large purchases and/or visit my relatives who live 200 miles away.

    One other option–many cities now have car-share companies. I think it’s cheaper than renting a car, especially if you do it often. When I checked, there weren’t any of these cars parked near my house, but it could be an option for some.

  39. Giselle says:

    You forgot the other option that is BETTER than both the car and the bus, buying a scooter.
    I have a used Yamaha which cost me $2000 initially. Insurance is $70/year, I recently paid $250 for maintenance (this was a MAJOR service) and gas is whatever the prevailing price is (it holds 1 gallon at the very most).
    Its cheaper and more convenient than the bus and there is no contest between it and a car. I get 80 miles to the gallon, I can easily carry things like groceries on it, and park pretty much anywhere for free.

    For those that want to live frugally (and live in a place where they could ride regularly) an investment in a scooter really makes a lot of sense. Its far cheaper than even public transportation and you have complete control of when and where you go. As I like to tell people, it really is almost free to drive.

  40. AnnJo says:

    During my college days living in a major urban area, I enjoyed taking the bus, but my recent experiences have made me grateful I do not have to depend it. The people whose earphones blare obnoxious noises, who feel compelled to share their cell phone conversations with me, of which every third word is either ‘like’ or an expletive, the pants that hang down below areas pants are designed to cover and the fat rolls that hang beneath the bottom of skimpy tops, the perpetual arrogant or hostile glares from young thuggish packs – I’d rather preserve my love for humanity in general without having it challenged by too much particularity.

  41. jim says:

    Mark G, I was going to say the opposite. I thought that Trent’s $ values for repair & maintenance were on the high side.

    You spent “$11,546 over 179,000 miles” which to me seems very high. If thats just repairs and not maintenance then that is higher than average I’d think. I’ve had 2 cars over the past 14 years both bought used and I’ve spent about $2000-$3000 total over 100,000 miles. But then maybe I’m just lucky or had cheaper cars. There is luck involved and repair costs also depends on the car in question. The repair /maint on a Land Rover will be a lot higher than a Toyota Corolla.

  42. Johanna says:

    “the pants that hang down below areas pants are designed to cover and the fat rolls that hang beneath the bottom of skimpy tops, the perpetual arrogant or hostile glares from young thuggish packs”

    Okay, if this is *not* supposed to be code for “I don’t like to be around black people,” I suggest you clarify yourself, lest people get the wrong idea…

  43. Annie says:

    I don’t think taking a bus would be comfortable for me, all the many stops and the people you have to deal with. No Way! I love driving to work and having the comfort of listening to whatever music i want, have talk radio if i want, have my seats warmed,etc.. there is a lot of luxury for me to have a car to go to work. I would be stressed out riding the bus everyday to and from work. I give credit to those that do it, i won’t last a day doing it.

  44. Melissa says:

    Going to one car works if you have decent public transpo, which I don’t. If I rode the bus to work I’d have to walk 2 miles to a stop, ride downtown, change to another bus, and ride to a stop 1/4 of a mile from work. Reverse that to go home. It would cost me $6.50 and 4 hours of my time each day total. (Bus transfers are not free here.) It is NOT worth it to me to give up my car.

  45. Johanna says:

    Melissa, if there’s a bus that runs within 1/4 mile of your workplace, that sounds like pretty decent public transport to me. It’s a lot better than many communities have it, anyway.

    To make a car-free commute work, you don’t need to have convenient bus service from absolutely everywhere to absolutely everywhere else – but you do need to have some flexibility in where you live with respect to where you work. Maybe you don’t have that right now (and that’s OK) but if you were starting from scratch and wanted to choose a home in your area with a car-free commute in mind, maybe you could live somewhere along the bus route that goes by your workplace. Or maybe you could even live within walking distance of your workplace.

    Bus service in my town is pretty dismal too – a lot of routes only run once an hour, and not at all in the evenings or on weekends, and they take forever to get anywhere because their routes are all squiggly and make no sense. But when I moved here, I knew I wanted to try to get by without a car, so I chose an apartment within walking distance of work, which also happens to be within walking distance of a train station that gives me easy access to most places. Five years later, it’s still working well for me.

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