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Public Transportation? Available to you?
Old 10-31-2009, 08:02 AM   #1
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Public Transportation? Available to you?

I have just read yet another article that states that you should give up your car and use public transportation to save money. Wonderful, if ya got it!! I lived in NYC and have to say I loved having that option, and it surely did save a lot of money, which was of course offset by the general cost of living there, but that's another story.

When gas was so high a couple of years ago I decided to check out my public transportation options. My own situation is that I live in a bedroom community about 20 miles outside the capital of my state. I would have to drive (or walk if I really gave up my car??) about 8 miles to catch a vanpool which would cost me $125/month to join. The schedule is a very strict once a day option, hope it works for your schedule! When I get to "big city" I would then need to take 2 different buses, then must walk about 1 mile to the office from the closest bus stop. In the afternoon, same routine. (travel time about 3.5 hours total a day) Due to the time needed for van/bus/foot travel, I would only be in the office about 6.5 hours a day. This is simply not an option. So, for me, public transportation would not be feasible, and I do live just outside a fairly large city.

I spend several thousand dollars a year on my cars, some times more, sometimes less, not counting depreciation. Its a lot of money, but I just don't see how I can get rid of that expense.

Surely all those advice givers telling us to give up our cars and take public transportation must have always lived in the city, and maybe don't understand that public transportation is not an option for most of us?

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?
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:10 AM   #2
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Public transportation is not an option for me. There is none in my suburb outside a fairly large city. I ride my bike to work most days now. I could live without a car, but not comfortably.

I can walk to shopping, restaurants and banks easily. I could go to the dentist, the doctor, the hospital on my bike. I can vote by walking to the polling site at school. I can get to entertainment (movies, concerts, sports events) by walking or biking. I can take a shuttle to the airport and from there take another shuttle into the city.

Our family of 3 drivers could live with just one car. We have 2 cars. I drive the least in my family.

How much do we spend on the cars? Several thousand a year if the purchase prices are amortized over the 10 to 15 years we keep them. Insurance, gas, tires, batteries, oil changes, and other maintenance cost almost nothing compared to the purchase prices.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:11 AM   #3
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I'm a carless Brooklynite.

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Old 10-31-2009, 08:39 AM   #4
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We have one car, a motor scooter, bicycles, access to an extensive public transportation system and feet. Which ever one gets us there the cheapest and is most convenient is what we use.

For example of we are not hauling anything big and the weather permits we double up on the scooter and roll. Going downtown we may take public transportation to avoid the high parking fees.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:40 AM   #5
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I probably could, if I wanted to, and if I was young and broke I would do that (just as I did in the 1960's, when I was young and broke).

The bus stop is right in front of my grocery store, about a half mile from my home. I don't know the bus schedule, but it would be a straight shot from there to my work (an additional mile, so I could also walk). I only have to work 4.5 more days anyway, but there is a nice shopping center next to my work, with every type of store that one could need.

The closeness of everything to my home is probably why I only have put 38,800 miles on my 2000 Solara. Actually, I would probably choose to walk everywhere if I had no car. Everything I could possibly need is within a couple of miles, and I think there could be personal safety issues for an older woman traveling alone on our bus system.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:41 AM   #6
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Not an option for me unless I relocate -- I am 45 miles or so from a city of any size. The closest small town is 15 miles but not much there in the way of services. I also enjoy taking road trips ranging from a couple of days to 3-4 weeks so would not likely give up the Honda even if I lived in a metro area.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:00 AM   #7
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I live within a mile of the center of a large city. All my daily needs could easily be taken care of without a car, but it would be quite hard on my social life. I move around most the time walking or riding the bus or train. But I still keep my car, because so many events that I want to attend are in neighborhoods, not downtown or in my neighborhood. I would have to make 1 or sometines 2 bus transfers. It would be easier if I lived right downtown I think.

But also I am becoming more aware of crime. Mostly I feel fine walking around up where I live late at night, but just a few days ago some woman had a gun stuck in her face only 3 blocks from where I live at 10:30 PM on a Wednesday. She quickly handed over her money, but her assailant smacked her in the face with the gun for good measure.

I think the truth is that we have those nuevo-urban articles with a big grain of salt, because most of our cities are not even remotely safe.

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Old 10-31-2009, 11:06 AM   #8
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Sounds great for someone who lives and w*rks in the big city. I'd love to be able to do all I need to do without a car, but that means living in the big city, which I have no intention of ever doing again.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:16 AM   #9
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Surely all those advice givers telling us to give up our cars and take public transportation must have always lived in the city, and maybe don't understand that public transportation is not an option for most of us?
The irony is that people "need" cars because they have cars. The prevalence of automobiles has allowed people to move further and further away from city centers into what has become known as "suburban sprawl". It wasn't always that way. If people didn't have cars, they wouldn't live way out there in the first place. If you live out there and give up your car, then you'll probably have to move . . . which is what people who say "give up your car" really mean.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:17 AM   #10
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I live east of Seattle in a suburb/old town. Public transportation is two blocks away, and the local business district provides a free shuttle bus through the downtown district (similar to Seattle's free ride area in downtown).

Grocery stores, restaurants and the library are within 1.5 miles walking distance, but I still have a car and use it. As HaHA says there are many times when no car would impact my social activities. Hauling 3 bags of groceries on a bus isn't exactly how I viewed my retirement.

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Old 10-31-2009, 11:19 AM   #11
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The irony is that people "need" cars because they have cars. The prevalence of automobiles has allowed people to move further and further away from city centers into what has become known as "suburban sprawl". It wasn't always that way. If people didn't have cars, they wouldn't live way out there in the first place. If you live out there and give up your car, then you'll probably have to move . . . which is what people who say "give up your car" really mean.
Yes, but the flip side of this is trying to tell others how to live as a few "advocates" seem to want to do. Some people just want nothing to do with city life and will pay whatever it takes in terms of inconvenience or the cost of car ownership to avoid it.

I'd sooner give up my cars and use a bicycle or an electric golf cart in town than live in a dense urban area where transit is feasible and cost-effective.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 10-31-2009, 11:23 AM   #12
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I assume that "public transportation" refers to a public convenience that is supported by taxpayer bucks. We have a bus system here that I have taken on occasion to large civic events (sports events, festivals etc) from the park and ride, but never on an ongoing basis. Some politicians occasionally try to push "light rail" from time to time, but it has always gone down in flames by the voters.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:31 AM   #13
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Yes, but the flip side of this is trying to tell others how to live.
Which is exactly what someone is doing when they say you should give up your car.

Besides, I can't see giving up a car as a good choice on purely economic grounds unless you already live in one of the few places where a car is a simple luxury. Moving closer to the city is almost always more expensive (unless you're relocating from the beach, maybe). Surely there are ulterior motives at work here.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:33 AM   #14
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Which is exactly what someone is doing when they say you should give up your car.

Besides, I can't see giving up a car as a good choice on purely economic grounds unless you already live in one of the few places where a car is a simple luxury. Moving closer to the city is almost always more expensive (unless you're relocating from the beach, maybe). Surely there are ulterior motives at work here.
Precisely. There are some people who want to make car ownership (or non-urban life) so expensive or inconvenient that they give up their cars, blow up the suburbs and crowd into the city centers. Fortunately most people recognize these folks as part of a fringe element.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 10-31-2009, 11:45 AM   #15
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allowed people to move further and further away from city centers into what has become known as "suburban sprawl". It wasn't always that way.
Yeah, all those babies kept growing up and having babies. Would preventing city/town/village from expanding be some form of birth control?

(Or, I suppose, to keep up the theme of this thread you could blame it on the back seat of those pesky automobiles.)
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:55 AM   #16
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Precisely. There are some people who want to make car ownership (or non-urban life) so expensive or inconvenient that they give up their cars, blow up the suburbs and crowd into the city centers. Fortunately most people recognize these folks as part of a fringe element.
This may happen naturally at some point.
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:01 PM   #17
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This may happen naturally at some point.
It is entirely possible depending on what happens to oil prices and the ability to generate cost-effective alternatives.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 10-31-2009, 12:08 PM   #18
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OP, you make it seem that you cannot possibly do anything but use your car. Iíve 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 currently use public transit in a city and carry a couple of bags that can be balanced, one over the shoulder, one carried in the other hand, for groceries and whatever else would be stored in a car. Public transit ainít pretty, but yes, it is much cheaper; and healthier as I walk a lot more and the heavy bags seem to help my back problem. Iím planning to walk a couple of miles to a theater today, spent $16 for three tickets to see second year Master of Fine Arts students strut their stuff. May take a bus part way back, Halloween, now thatís entertainment!

As far as safety goes, the suburbs, smaller cities and boonies can bite you as well. Donít get me started.
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:49 PM   #19
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Oahu is considered to have a very good public transit system. It covers most places on the Island. So, yes, I suppose I could give up one or both cars and transition to THE BUS. However, the convenience of having at least one car will be one of the LAST luxuries I will give up as a retiree. (Imagine going to home depot on THE BUS to get a 2 X 4!) I admit that I could adapt - if I had to, but right now, I don't, so I won't!

Now, let me tell you about traffic... Nahhh!
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:37 PM   #20
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Regarding car-pooling, it's an excellent way to get to know people better and even select for dating. If someone doesn't pan out as interesting, nothing lost, the other person might not even know you were looking. Oh, what might have been. A very good-looking person once asked me to car-pool but the company eliminated my division, another company picked up my job, and I eventually car-pooled with someone who had no romantic potential. Where'd I leave the violin?
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