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Old 10-31-2009, 01:48 PM   #21
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OP, you make it seem that you cannot possibly do anything but use your car. I’ve car-pooled within both a major city and out in the sticks. I did it with people I knew from work but some people use an anonymous method where riders just line up and people selectively(!) pick them up for a fee or just to be able to use the car pool lanes on the bridge which is now broken so there they are on over-loaded public transit or tele-communing.

I would love to get rid of my cars and use public transport if possible and reasonable as far as time goes. I did enjoy having it available to me and made full use of it when I lived in NYC. When in other countries I marvel at how well it works. However, here where I live now, it really is NOT feasible.

Standing beside the road anonymously waiting to (selectively) get picked up for a fee.... not gonna happen with this gal!!! but thanks for the picture in my mind, LOL

I did carpool once, the girl would show up late half the time, and I got fed up. I have tried since to find someone to carpool with but it has never worked out. Too spread out, schedules didn't match etc etc.

As I was typing out this post my sister called and her 7 year old minivans transmission went kaput! It was hauled to the stealership this afternoon and she is naturally quite bummed. Cars really are an expensive thing we have of course come to rely on.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:49 PM   #22
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Would you be able to comfortably live without a car? Is public transportation an option for you? How much money could you save per year if you have that option?
We live in the suburbs and have very infrequent bus service. There's a public van service, but reservations are required (this is used mainly by the elderly, I think it works out great for them).

So, no good public transportation options There's a bike trail 200 yards from my house that goes to a lot of shopping areas and even to downtown Dayton, so riding a bike could be a good option in fair weather.

Our two cars probably cost us $2000 per year in direct costs (gas, insurance, registration, repairs) plus with about another $2000 per year in budgeted costs for replacement vehicles. For that price, we get all the local transportation we need on a moment's notice. Not free, but beats waiting at a bus stop for 30 minutes every time we want to go anywhere, and doing all the planning to figure out transfers and routings.

When we lived in DC area the Metro (subway) was really handy. I'd use that all the time if we had to live in that place.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:14 PM   #23
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We live close to where the local bus stops . I've never used it but if needed I could . I would love to live in a small town where I could walk to several things or bike .
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:22 PM   #24
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....
As I was typing out this post my sister called and her 7 year old minivans transmission went kaput! It was hauled to the stealership this afternoon and she is naturally quite bummed. Cars really are an expensive thing we have of course come to rely on.
Reminds me of a guy I worked with. We traded rides when our cars were in the shop. Networking! He was a more senior employee and it didn't hurt to know him. Could be a way to keep your job in hard times.

Stealership.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:27 PM   #25
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I have just read yet another article that states that you should give up your car and use public transportation to save money.
To save money? OK, if you need to. But for me it is about convenience, not money. I could get by with out a car but I don't want to. Other articles pour on the guilt advocating that individuals save the day for energy independence by forgoing cars. No thanks, individual action may help but it won't make a major difference. We need effective public policy to make a real dent. I have advocated steep gas taxes since the oil shocks of the 70s - for national security reasons and for the green benefits. I would be quite willing to accept that imposition. High gas costs would have driven American ingenuity to develop high mileage internal combustion engines, better hybrids, and electric cars. By now we would all be getting 60-100 miles to the gallon.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:00 PM   #26
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I can walk to some shops where I live now...pharmacy, bank, flower shop, restaurants. Also some doctor's offices(of course, not anyone I go to other than my optometrist). I work 2 miles from my home and could bike there if I was not averse to city traffic, no bike lane and some pretty big hills. A fellow I work with bikes all the time in good weather. I could walk about a quarter of a mile and get a bus I think, but I am not sure of the schedule or the route. When I turn 60, I could use local taxi service and pay a dollar or so in fare if I didn't mind a shared ride and extensive waits on occasion. This taxi service is funded by the PA lottery.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:34 PM   #27
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I use public transportation about 50% of the time to go to the City (San Francisco), Oakland or Berkeley but I don't go up there often.

Although it is available, I seldom use public transportation in the (Silicon) Valley. I usually drive to work and drop my son off at school on the way. (The school is about 7 miles away and the bike route is lousy.)

I prefer riding my bike to either driving or public transportation. I'll ride to work more often when DS gets to college.

I bike (or run or scooter or roller blade) to the gym, library, credit union, grocery store, other errands, etc. I think that this reduces my weekly car usage by 15-20 miles/week. I think there are three benefits - my wallet, my health and the environment although admittedly the financial benefits are small compared to going car free.

I doubt I'll ever go car free but I'll probably increasingly adapt a "car lite" life style as kids activities (school, sports) decrease and I eventually RE.

The Bike Forum has a forum on car free and car lite living if you are interested. (My advice is to ignore the politics.)

Living Car Free - Bike Forums

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Old 10-31-2009, 03:51 PM   #28
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Where we live now it is very difficult to do without a car - high traffic, no shoulders or sidewalks, very poor public transportation. Once we finish work we are moving to a place that is very pedestrian and cycle friendly but has zero public transportation either in the town (pop. 90,000) or between it and neighboring towns. We intend to sell one of our 2 vehicles. We will walk and bike the vast majority of the time to the shops, restaurants etc, but to go to the coast (60 miles) or to visit our daughter and husband (150 miles) then a car is really the only option and since we can afford a car we will have one.

We have a 6 month trip to the UK planned in 2011 and know the small town where we'll be renting a house. As we've done in our last few trips we won't have a car as there are lots of public transportation options. Should we find we want a car for a particular excursion then we'll hire one for a few days as needed.

I don't think it helps to be preached at for driving a car when there are so few reasonable alternatives for many folks.
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:11 PM   #29
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Our two cars probably cost us $2000 per year in direct costs (gas, insurance, registration, repairs)
I'd say you have the world's two cheapest cars, almost miraculously cheap. I drive approximately 4000-5000 miles/yr with a pretty new compact car, and have never had an at-fault accident, or any traffic violations in over 10 years. Insurance runs $940, gasoline $550, garage $900, routine oil changes, washes and maintenance $250. Forget about occasional big-time maintenance like timing belts, new tires, etc- or a sinking fund for a new car, my routine cash expenses are $2740 pa. Registration and vehicle inspection add $250 or so per year. And of course occasionally some clod is going to hit your parked car, or whatever, add another $500.

I would say that the all in costs for a decent but modest car are at minimum very close to $5000 in most cases. According to Runzheimer, which has a lot of data, this would be a laughably low estimate!

Runzheimer Analyzes Cost for Mid-Size 2009 Vehicle

Some of these discussions remind me of the yogi in India about whom it was said that once he achieved a certain level of yogi-dom he lived on air alone.

ha
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:36 PM   #30
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Yeah, all those babies kept growing up and having babies. Would preventing city/town/village from expanding be some form of birth control?
Nope plenty of room for everyone.

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Old 10-31-2009, 05:18 PM   #31
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Nope plenty of room for everyone.
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Old 10-31-2009, 05:28 PM   #32
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Americans generally value their personal freedom more than other nation citizens. I hate to give mine up. The question is how long we can afford it. Perhaps by going to smaller and more efficient cars, we can buy some time to give time for new technologies to develop.

PS. I forgot to say that public transportation does not work for most people in the metropolitan Phoenix. We are just too spread out. But then it is the "chicken or the egg". It's the advent of the auto that allows people to move out to the suburb.
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:17 PM   #33
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I'd say you have the world's two cheapest cars, almost miraculously cheap. I drive approximately 4000-5000 miles/yr with a pretty new compact car, and have never had an at-fault accident, or any traffic violations in over 10 years. Insurance runs $940, gasoline $550, garage $900, routine oil changes, washes and maintenance $250. Forget about occasional big-time maintenance like timing belts, new tires, etc- or a sinking fund for a new car, my routine cash expenses are $2740 pa. Registration and vehicle inspection add $250 or so per year. And of course occasionally some clod is going to hit your parked car, or whatever, add another $500.

I would say that the all in costs for a decent but modest car are at minimum very close to $5000 in most cases. According to Runzheimer, which has a lot of data, this would be a laughably low estimate!

Runzheimer Analyzes Cost for Mid-Size 2009 Vehicle

Some of these discussions remind me of the yogi in India about whom it was said that once he achieved a certain level of yogi-dom he lived on air alone.

ha
For the past nine years I have averaged only 4200 miles/year on my 2000 Solara. In 2008, I spent:

$483 for gas (including the Hurricane Gustav evacuation to Missouri),
$1,128 for insurance (perfect driving record plus no collision insurance since my car is old), and
$1,262 for car maintenance including oil changes, tires, registration, etc. Maintenance used to be negligible until 2008 but the old car is starting to need attention.

The total is $2,873, so like Ha's expenses, mine come to more than $2,000. No garage or parking fees since I live in a single family house with a driveway. No clod has hit my car in a parking lot hard enough to cause much damage (but then it's old, so tiny scratches or dents don't bother me - - I might care more if it were new).

Plus, since I like new cars instead of used, you can count several thousand per year for the new car fund.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:48 PM   #34
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I am in the same boat. I would love to give up my cars but it just not practical. I've two cars that are paid for but I spend about $8,000 a year in car expense between gas and maintenance not including wear and tear. I wish this society was more like Europe with a flexible network of public transportation.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:49 PM   #35
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Having a car is a matter of convenience for me too, and not one I would willingly do without. I do commute to work by bus to save the cost and hassle of parking downtown, In fact one of the things on my checklist when I was shopping for my house was a commute time of half an hour or less, door to door, by bus. As it turns out, I can also get to most of the other places I need or want to go on the bus. I was almost carless for a few months in 2006, waiting for delivery of my Prius after my old car died, and I managed OK. It was spring and summer, and the mild weather meant waiting in bus stops was not too disagreeable, and the long days meant I didn't feel unsafe changing buses downtown even late in the evening--sunset is after 9 PM here at midsummer. Even so, I wouldn't want to do without a car permanently. In many cases it takes twice as long to get from A to B on the bus as it does to drive. Running a series of errands that involves several destinations and/or a number of pick-ups and drop-offs is much more easily done by car than bus, and if transportation of anything heavy or bulky is required, trying to do it by bus is a major hassle. And if I want to go further than the next county, a car is essential. If I move where I plan to after retirement, the transit system, although pretty good considering the low population and economic situation of that county, will be an even less adequate substitute for a personal vehicle than the big-city system that's available to me now.

I suppose it might be possible for me to do without my own car, and use delivery services, taxicabs, and rental cars instead. I imagine that's what I'll end up doing if I become unable to drive when I'm really old. But I doubt that it will be less expensive than my own car, and will surely be a vast deal less convenient.
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Old 10-31-2009, 09:24 PM   #36
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We have two cars--we drive each about 5000 miles/year. One is a '95 minivan (22 MPG), one is a 85 Toyota (30 MPG).
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I'd say you have the world's two cheapest cars, almost miraculously cheap. I drive approximately 4000-5000 miles/yr with a pretty new compact car, and have never had an at-fault accident, or any traffic violations in over 10 years. Insurance runs $940,
Insurance (two cars, two drivers, Liability and uninsured motorist): $460 per year total = $230 per vehicle per year
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gasoline $550
Car A: 5000 miles/22 MPG = 227 gallons x $2.50/gal = $570
Car B: 5000 miles/30 MPG = 167 gallons x $2.50/gal = $418

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garage $900
Ours came with the house. Full of junk. Cars sit in driveway. Not good.
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routine oil changes, washes and maintenance $250
Oil changes--Three per year per car = $150 total ( I do my own on the Toyota, but use the cheapie coupons for the minivan. The filter is inaccessable except by monkey). Washes: Hose and $2 in soap and wax per year. Washes are rare. Scheduled maintenance (independent mechanic) = $150 per year per vehicle (again--I'm only driving 5000 miles/year)
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Registration and vehicle inspection add $250 or so per year.
Each car = $107.61 per year
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Forget about occasional big-time maintenance like timing belts, new tires, etc
I bought four new tires for the small car this year--$250, but I won't be doing that again for many years. Over the last 3 years we've had about $3000 in repairs and big ticket maintenance (air conditioning-ouch! a timing belt and related "while you are in there" stuff), plus tires for the other car. So, about $500 per car per year.
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And of course occasionally some clod is going to hit your parked car, or whatever, add another $500.
As you can imagine, our cars don't get entered in many car shows. I don't think I'd notice if someone hit it unless the airbag went off (in the one that has an airbag). I've never had any bodywork done on either of these cars, I don't want to spoil them. Driving a POS is truly liberating, I really don't worry about the shopping carts in the parking lot or about Grandma parked next to me with her Coup d'Ville and it's 4' long doors that weigh 200 lbs. Granny, do your worst!

So, upon closer examination it looks like our direct costs of ownership are $3115 per year total on these two cars, or about $1600 per car.

I think my other estimate of $2000 per year for vehicle replacements might be low in the future, but it overstates our present investment. One of our present cars cost less than $2000 and I've been driving it for 11 years. The other cost $15K and we've been driving it for 10 years. So, the purchase cost on our two present vehicles amortizes out to $1620 per year (in "then year" dollars), or about $810 per car. When we replace them I'll probably spend $20-30K per vehicle, but I plan to keep the new ones for 10-15 years each.

I guess the keys to cheap auto driving are:
- Live in a place where it is cheap to register and insure a vehicle
- Get rid of any sense of pride in the vehicle. It's an appliance.
- Be lucky. Accidents, blown head gaskets, CV joints are expensive.

Runzheimer's estimates: I could easily spend that money on a car, and would have no problem doing it if it were someone else's money.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:08 AM   #37
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I just like to drive.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:28 AM   #38
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I use the light rail system sometimes, and could, theoretically, use a combo of bus/rail/bus to get to w*rk, but it would increase my commute time from 40 min total to probably 1.5-2.0 hrs. One good thing, I have a transit pass, the only perk I get, aside from a free flu shot...
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Old 11-01-2009, 07:10 AM   #39
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Would you be able to comfortably live without a car? Is public transportation an option for you? How much money could you save per year if you have that option?
We would not be able to live where we do without a car. The nearest public bus stop is a good three mile walk along narrow roads with no shoulders or sidewalks. Walking or bicycling that on a regular basis would give one a life expectancy of less than 30 days. I have seen a couple of people using the cheap 49cc scooters for local transportation, but even those are a bit slow in traffic.

That's one reason I ended up with a motorcycle for the 3.4 mile commute to work. There is one, 1-mile stretch of road where I need 50 mph uphill to avoid being run over so a 49cc scooter would not meet the criteria. So if the temperatures at quitting time will be in the high 30s or better I ride the bike instead of taking the pickup truck.

Big city living is something we will never do again unless forced at gunpoint. Even then, I might shoot back first....
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