Transportation: Friction Versus Finance

making transit decisionsThough I've been car-free for years, I was recently left to ponder how we make transportation decisions when my local transit authority unveiled a new plan to fill a $17 million budget hole by making a pretty major series of changes to its fare structure. Because, as the agency's analysts mused, only 5% of its ridership used transit for errands — going out and coming back on the same transfer — they would eliminate this option, also increasing the fares and dismantling the “zone” structure so that a ride of a mile or two would be the same cost as a ride all the way across the metropolitan area.

It would, I argued — and the transit's authority's board strongly disagreed — put a lot of riders like me who use the transit system a few days a week (and never for commuting) in a situation where driving was preferable to riding transit. In other words, it would have a result very different from the supposed goals of the publicly-subsidized agency: putting cars back on the road.

Looking at the annual cost comparison: Transit always wins
My transportation geek friends and I debated this endlessly. A few laid out the decision in terms of annual costs — let's say a bus pass costs $100 a month for an adult, and a family of four could get bus passes for $260, or $3,120 annually. Even a very economical car would cost $250 or more per month, plus maybe $60 or $75 per month for insurance and maybe $100 a month for gas, somewhere around $4,900 or $5,000 annually. Even supposing maintenance costs were very low or zero, transit would still win big: less than 2/3 the cost of driving.

But don't forget “sunk costs” and the way we really make decisions
We do not, however, make decisions about transportation in this rational and simple manner. There are emotional hangups that prevent us from easily moving from one mode of transport to another; many decisions that are not as neat as “oh, that's cheaper!”

Say you have an older model car, for which you have paid cash or finished paying off a loan, and perhaps invested a few thousand dollars in maintenance and repair. Once this expenditure has been completed, we should (theoretically) eliminate that cost from our calculations. It's sunk cost! If your family is deciding next month whether to take transit or drive a car, we should only calculate insurance, gas, and upcoming maintenance against the cost of a monthly transit pass.

But of course you are not doing that. Why not?

  • Insurance is usually not purchased month-to-month, but in six-month chunks.
  • Even if you could decide on a monthly basis whether to activate insurance or not, you would probably keep a car insured (“just in case”).
  • Cars are not very liquid assets; you cannot simply sell and repurchase them like stocks and bonds.
  • Even if you could, cars are emotional belongings for some; we go so far as to name our cars!
  • We don't make modular transportation decisions (i.e., the decision is almost never “will I drive or take transit this month?”).

Transportation decisions are made on a trip-by-trip basis
You get up in the morning and you are going to work. Even if you have no so-called “friction” in your decisions — if driving, taking transit, bicycling, and walking are all equally possible and would result in little substantial difference in time from front door to office chair — the financial component of that decision will almost always be made on an incremental cost basis. In other words, you will compare what you actually have to spend that day to drive or take the bus: gas + parking + tolls versus bus fare. In this circumstance, a trip on the bus with a few fare-paying children would usually be more expensive than driving, if you have to pay fares for outgoing and return trips.

Friction remains
There is always friction in our decisions. For transportation, friction might include the following:

  • Cargo (hard to lug on the bus and even harder to carry while walking)
  • The ability to go direct to a destination
  • Side trips or necessary errands
  • Your children's behavior and energy level
  • Whether a long wait for a transfer or a late bus might add a great deal of time to an errand
  • Weather
  • The need for comfortable versus stylish footwear

I favor bicycling, and every time I advocate a bicycling lifestyle, critics wonder if I show up everywhere “all sticky and gross.” (I just don't sweat very much. I also bike quite slow.)

More often than not, we make transportation decisions based only on the friction, and not at all on the cost.

This is why I think our local transit authority — and many public transportation pundits — have it all wrong when they're thinking about how to change fares or services. The best entry point for transit are those low-friction trips: errands that parents take with young children, say, to story hour at the library or to lunch with a friend. Out and back, with little cargo. Sadly, most transit fare structures seem to be targeted at daily commuters and those who don't have a choice (who either can't afford a car or don't drive); not at the entry-level transit-curious.

I think it's a pity. Creating a mix of car, transit and active transportation like biking and walking can drastically reduce overall household expenses (we spend, on average, 16% of our annual income on transportation), and if it was easier to make decisions on a per-trip basis, we might be more inclined to make bigger, “modular” decisions; like selling a car or buying a monthly bus pass or a commuter bike.

What should you do? Think about the ways to reduce friction in your trip-by-trip decisions; perhaps buying a nice raincoat and comfortable shoes for long walks, or choosing to meet friends at destinations that are easy to travel by public transit. It's a nice way to ease into small decisions that could add up to large financial gains.

More about...Budgeting, Transportation

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Belligero
Belligero
8 years ago

Professor Steve Dutch (University of Wisconsin – Green Bay) has written some rather salient comments on the topic:

http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/MassTransit.HTM

It would be a worthwhile read for anyone involved in transportation policy, and provides further background to Ms. Gilbert’s points.

TB
TB
8 years ago

Unfortunately, my job requires me to drive all over the city, lugging around tools and construction materials, making the bus a non-option. For the parents out there, I noticed a lot of parents drive their kids to school; my wife and I put the girls on the schoolbus in the morning, which is less costly and time-saving! School buses are a “public transportation” not mentioned in the article.

Heather
Heather
8 years ago
Reply to  TB

I know my parents weren’t ready for their 6 year old to walk a mile to school by herself, and the buses didn’t run within a mile of the schools in my school district. I imagine most districts have a similar system. Now, whether that means my parents could have gotten a little walking in by taking me that way, that’s another issue (as it was I had an older brother who could walk me until I was old enough to walk myself). But certainly with Schools of Choice, if you’re sending your child to a school in another district… Read more »

Paul
Paul
8 years ago

I recently moved from the DC area after living and working ther for one year. When I first moved there I looked into using public transportation to get to work. In the DC area, the Metro train stations do not go much past the beltway from the center of the city. It is really expensive to live within the beltway and I certainly could not afford to live there. So in order to use the Metro, I would have had to drive or take a bus to the nearest Metro station, and pay for parking if I did drive. When… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul

“The DC area” is pretty big– some people commute all the way from West Virginia! Even if you were just in the suburbs, you can’t have public transportation everywhere there–suburbs were designed for cars, so mass transit really goes against the grain in that sort of environment. The best you can do is commute by mass transit, but going to do your errands from strip mall to strip mall is going to be tough. When I moved to DC proper (the city, not the burbs) I sold my car, then took the metro/buses/cabs and biked and walked everywhere. It was… Read more »

Paul
Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

So you would describe the Anacostia area as a wonderful place to live?

http://dc.everyblock.com/locations/neighborhoods/anacostia/?only=crime

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Ah, ha ha hah! Anacostia! In the 90s, a British tourist got killed there for “getting off at the wrong stop” (i.e. he was the only white person there). Shot in the chest.

Nowadays there’s a lot of growth in the area but it’s not like the gentrification that took over the Navy Yard where my brother in law lives these days.

My old “ghetto” stations at U Street and Columbia Heights are now surrounded by luxury condos too.

Damn, I’m so homesick.

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Amazingly, I was once the only white person on an Anacostia bus (and an out of town tourist as well! From the midwest!) and no one shot me.

however did that happen?

I will say, i know an awful lot of women who gave up on public transit because they couldn’t take the sexual harassment – the inappropriate nudity, the being touched, the guy getting off at your stop and following you, etc. Making transit FEEL safe is one of those important friction points that transit authorities have a hard time addressing.

Barb
Barb
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Yes, DC requires a choice. That said, we lived in Arlington virginia, a family on one government income for a great many years. It IS possible to find affordable housing inside the beltway-and to make other choices if that housing is expense. In our case, we had one car and a bike (my husband rode the bike and I drove him if he needed) and didnt have a car for our kids since they could walk to all schools. I also could walk to the library, restaurants, the ice cream store and a grocery if I had to. so having… Read more »

Amanda @ Click. The Good News
Amanda @ Click. The Good News
8 years ago

Just wanted to let you know that when I tried to view the post on Google reader & then clicked through to comment Google gave me a huge screen that said your site was known to be distributing malware. You might want to check with Google & see if others are getting that too.

easlern
easlern
8 years ago

I got the same message while navigating to the site using Chrome.

Get Rich Point
Get Rich Point
8 years ago

Even I am getting the same warning while trying to open GRS.

Melissa
Melissa
8 years ago

I also got the malware warning too.

I live in New Orleans and wish that we had a decent public transportation. Even bike riding is out of the question due to safety(most drivers unwilling to share road or know the laws)and weather (hard not to sweat through everything when it is 100F with 100% humidity outside for half the year).

A-L
A-L
8 years ago
Reply to  Melissa

Got the Malware warning for Mozilla yesterday (but it’s off this morning). Anyway, I’m in New Orleans too! I have to say that for a New Orleans summer, it’s really not that tempting to be doing anything physical outside. But fall, winter, and spring are all doable if one is interested in biking/walking. I’m hoping I’ll actually be transferred to a closer school so that I can at least try biking to work. But as far as public transportation, it’s just not dependable enough. I don’t think the steetcars/buses make their circuits frequently enough to eliminate the inconvenience of waiting… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago

Thanks, everyone, for letting us know about this. One of the adverse consequences of selling the site is that I can’t go in and try to fix problems like this myself. But I’ve let QuinStreet know about the problem, and they’ll tackle it as soon as they can.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

On Safari the warning makes it nearly impossible to read the site, every click brings up the “harmful site” message that requires ignore + confirmation click– even hitting reply causes this. I tried posting this comment on Safari and it wouldn’t work.

Also, the google result links for your travel site continue to take me to outer space– now it redirects to a numerical IP with some sort of error message.

I hope these problems aren’t related!

Audrey
Audrey
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Yep, 3-4 ok clicks for me, including every time it thinks it’s broken and I have to reload in compatibility mode, every time I want to comment, or occasionally just because it’s been too long since I last clicked ok.

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

No problems or warnings reading it on an iPad if I access the site through the hypertext link on the email version I receive. However, if I google “Get Rich Slowly” and click on the website I do get a malware warning– in fact, the iPad version of Safari at that point won’t let me proceed at all.

jim
jim
8 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

JD,

You might want to check out jdroth.com as well.

THe Google warning is here :

http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=https://www.getrichslowly.org/&hl=en

It says that jdroth.com may be acting as intermediary for malware.

It has some more specifics.
It refers to some domain I’ve never heard of with a .tr extension.

The warning thankfully says that getrichslowly.org has not hosted malware itself.

ali
ali
8 years ago

I got that message too.

Quest
Quest
8 years ago

Same here:

‘Reported Attack Page!

This web page at http://www.getrichslowly.org has been reported as an attack page and has been blocked based on your security preferences.

Attack pages try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.Some attack pages intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.’

I gave ya’ll the benefit of the doubt and clicked over anyway ……

Lisa Wilson
Lisa Wilson
8 years ago
Reply to  Quest

The reason we are getting these pages of malware & attacks is because they are running aLL these ads in the sides. The simple Dollar is the same way. I can’t even bypass my security to get into it.

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago

I got the warning too, using Firefox. JD, I know you said you alerted QuinStreet, but has anyone considered the possibility that they already know? That it’s deliberate? That they’ve purposely embedded some shady, questionable marketing component that they may consider to be “fair game,” but Google (and the broader audience) would consider to be intrusive malware? What’s the harm? They’re just trying to learn more about the site’s visitors … by probing their personal files, browsing history, geographic location, etc. Hope the big payday was worth it, JD. I predict many more “incidents” like this going forward, as QuinStreet… Read more »

Leah
Leah
8 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Kevin, QuinStreet bought this site years ago. If things have been fine for the last many years, just move on with life. Seems that they likely already get plenty of money from the site as is, since the site has lots of readers and advertising.

Kevin
Kevin
8 years ago
Reply to  Leah

You’re probably right.

Someone probably just hacked the corporate Internet giant’s bulletproof, redundant servers and slipped in the malware.

Weird that it was ONLY this one site, and I’ve never seen that warning anywhere else on the Internet, ever. Also weird that while JD was just running this site on his own, no one seemed able to hack it, but once it was handed over to experienced experts, managing dozens of similar sites on an industrial-scale server farm, it was so easily compromised.

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

I have been trying to take my daughter to day care one day a week using public transit. She loves the ride and it gets us outside, walking. However like you, the fare structure no longer makes it cheaper for me to take the bus than to drive a car, which is a shame, because I would probably be motivated to do it more often if I could get a free transfer, or if the relatively short distance merited a cheaper rate.

olga
olga
8 years ago

I had been using bus to work in Portland, OR and in Austin, TX. However, I still keep a car for regular trips to stores and errands. When I commute to work, bus cuts traffic better, and I use the time sitting more productive (reading, knitting) then if I drove myself. So, in a nutshell, I use bus during a week for convenience, to not put wear on the car (all paid up), to not use gas (and thus save money), to not waste time, and to lighten the traffic (and be “green:). One important thing though for me: my… Read more »

lanjha
lanjha
8 years ago

And then driving a certain kind of car defines their entire life for some, like Charlie Sheen.

“They can say that, but what kind of car are they driving? ” – Charlie Sheen

SB @One Cent at a Time
SB @One Cent at a Time
8 years ago

Good helful hints. I spend 10% of my income in transport, including car insurance and maintianance. Where I live its difficult to get a public transport. I even have to wait for hours to get on to the only bus that covers our area. Car pooling is what I am relying on to save cost on gas. Biking to local grocer is another way I could save some money.

Get Rich Point
Get Rich Point
8 years ago

I want to bring two points in focus:

1. What about the extra time taken in travel? Will the few, saved,dollars justify the lost time?

2. What about the exhaustion caused in such modes of transport? What about the adverse effects on the productivity and health of the individual?

caromba
caromba
8 years ago
Reply to  Get Rich Point

Worthwhile considerations.From my experience as a DC commuter, both favor public transportation.

1) If you live close to the Metro, public transit and driving within the city limits tend to take about the same time, but with Metro you can spend the time reading/entertaining yourself, while driving requires frustrated concentration.

2) Your mention of the health consequences made me think of the book “The Option of Urbanism” which lays out the correlation between obesity and drivable-only commutes.

Barb
Barb
8 years ago
Reply to  caromba

Every swear word my children know, they learned from me………..while I was driving on the 495 or 395………need I say more???

betsy22
betsy22
8 years ago
Reply to  Get Rich Point

I can’t imagine many things more exhausting than sitting in stop-and-go rush hour traffic. urgh 🙁

I’m in moderately decent shape and find walking or biking a couple of miles to be invigorating (a net personal energy gain) rather than exhausting…so long as I have good shoes on. Uncomfortable shoes ruin everything.

Audrey
Audrey
8 years ago
Reply to  betsy22

Restraining myself from killing stupid people on the road is very exhausting! 🙂

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago
Reply to  Audrey

It’s a well-known fact that every driver on the road except for oneself is stupid!

Sarah gilbert
Sarah gilbert
8 years ago
Reply to  Get Rich Point

I’d like to respond to the first question; it’s something that, as a ‘stay-at-home’ mom with a background in very high-paid finance work, I’ve often pondered. Every year one of the women’s magazines comes out with the ‘salary’ of a stay-at-home mom (which I frankly find ridiculous). I know it’s popular to consider that ‘time equals money,’ but I disagree on most calculations. Take making food at home: yes, were I to value my time at $65 an hour (my going rate for consulting work), it’s sure that I could get great food by trading that money I would have… Read more »

Mom of five
Mom of five
8 years ago
Reply to  Sarah gilbert

I don’t think time can only be quantified in terms of money. We can accomplish so much more with time. Sure, there’s a certain happiness that can come with a low key lifestyle, but there’s also happiness in accomplishment. Today, for instance, about an hour after my my daughter came home from school, I drove her to Irish dance practice. I was back in time to pick up one son from play practice and drop another off at baseball on the other side of town. Obviously, the kids don’t need to do all these activities, but they want to and… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  Get Rich Point

Where I live – because when house-hunting, we prioritized being able to bike and bus – it is faster to take the bus downtown than to drive, once you figure in parking. Biking is faster than either, but I don’t bike in bad weather.

Anyone who has to pay for parking, or park many blocks from work to avoid paying, would probably save money and time by choosing an alternative (even if it’s carpooling).

Becka
Becka
8 years ago

As much as a proponent of public transit and human-powered transit as I am, there’s no way for my husband and I to make any real financial gains changing our transit habits right now. Almost all of my driving is the 90 mile round trip to school I make thrice weekly. My husband tries to bike to work sometimes, but he really needs to be mobile once he’s there. I have absolutely been known to walk the three miles (and three back) to the bank to deposit a check, but that’s not going to save much. Our city’s public transit… Read more »

Sarah gilbert
Sarah gilbert
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

I just talked to another biking parent about this yesterday. He spent the highest monthly rate for zip car, which allowed him to go out of town twice month for, I think, $250. His comparison was to $850 for a new minivan, and he said it was totally worth it. I don’t really *have* that extra money in my budget, so I go out of town rarely, borrowing or renting cars, or flying and leaving the kids at home, when I do. Now that so many peer-to-peer carshare services are coming onto the market,, I think we’ll see very different… Read more »

amber
amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Becka I can comment on the trips as I live car-free (with a dog). I take at least 5 long car trips a year. Most car rental agencies do not prohibit pets in the vehicles. I am aware of 1 that does. As long as your pet is contained/cleaned up after it has never been an issue for me. I prefer this to owning as I can rent the vehicle I need for the trip I want to take (trip to the beach: convertible! trip with lots of luggage? SUV! otherwise, give me the smallest gas sipper you have).

CC
CC
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

I can’t help you with your 90 mile commute (yikes!), but we are carfree and use carshare (Zipcar) for errands and to take the dog out hiking (he has to be in a carrier). We use a rental car for the trips to my parents or to the coast. Weekend car rental is very inexpensive – they must make money during the week from business travelers.
We had a paid-for Honda Civic that had too many parts stolen to keep it running, so we didn’t replace it. Car-free is much less expensive.

Cujo
Cujo
8 years ago

I’m a huge fan of public transit, but wanted to point out the huge problem that almost none of those savings are realized unless you can get rid of the car completely – an impossibility for many people (including me).

betsy22
betsy22
8 years ago
Reply to  Cujo

When I moved to a transit/walk friendly urban area, I cut my average annual mileage by 8000 miles per year, which enabled me to keep my last car for a couple of years longer than I would have otherwise (I kept that car going until the bitter end). This was a substantial personal savings for me. True, it would be a much bigger savings to go completely car-less, but I like having a car available. Many families in my area seem to manage with just 1 car, which also would be a great savings over the typical 1 car per… Read more »

Audrey
Audrey
8 years ago
Reply to  Cujo

Zip cars or similar short term car rental services seem to help with this somewhat. The aren’t availabe or practical in all cities, but my brother and sister-in-law used them when they went carless in Boston. When you need to make the huge trip to the store or pick someone up from the airport with a ton of luggage, you can rent a car and drive insured for an hour or two, and then return the car. Even in “emergency” type situations, we were able to rent a car 15 minutes from the time of booking that was within walking… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  Cujo

Averaging 0-1 cars in our family instead of 1-2 has saved us an awful lot of money over the last decade. I don’t even know how to quantify it, really, because the low cost of our one car is based on not relying on it – not having to fix it in a hurry if it breaks, not having to replace it right away when it finally wears out.

Carla
Carla
8 years ago

Though I have a car, I take public transit when I can; except when I’m going to transport cargo (groceries, etc), need to make 1+ more stops, weather isn’t too oppressing, don’t need to go through a questionable area, places where it wouldn’t take me 4 times longer to go from point A to B via bus and so on. Unfortunately its almost never for me. Going carless is great for commuting, but that’s not my life right now. I lived here (Portland) without a car for over a year and it was hard to anything done without spending half… Read more »

Krantcents
Krantcents
8 years ago

I totally agree! I would love to commute (7 miles) via bicycle, but it is inconvenient. The bus takes too long although less expensive than driving. I live in Los Angeles where you need a car. The good news is I only take surface streets and there is little or no traffic when I commute.

Audrey
Audrey
8 years ago

Had to laugh at the statement that you don’t sweat much biking. I live in Houston, and when it 105F outside with 98% humidity, you sweat breathing outside. On those days, I really love my car (and hate the walk to the shuttle stop, but you can’t pass up on a free shuttle ride to work).

Kris L.
Kris L.
8 years ago

I took a job downtown, but I also had a paid off car. I couldn’t afford to drive and park it downtown, so I park and ride with the light rail system. My costs breakdown like so: Car and transit — Monthly transit pass: $100 Monthly park and ride lot pass: $15 Car payment: $0 Gas: $45 per month (Fill up once a month) DMV: $89 per year Oil change: $120 per year (Twice a year) Insurance $59 per month (I live in CA, but since my mileage is so low, I get a break in insurance costs. I just… Read more »

CJ Belle
CJ Belle
8 years ago
Reply to  Kris L.

@ Kris L–great cost breakdown;

I am taking a new job in a couple months that is in the heart of DC (my current work commute is 60 mi RT daily to a no-metro area outside DC) and I’ve struggled with the decision to move inside the beltway due to high C.O.L. (and my future temporary decrease in income). In agreement with your (and other commenter) thoughts, I think it’s worthwhile for me to do this cost comparison (esp. w/P’N’R option 5 mi from where I live now). Thanks for your insight.

Steve
Steve
8 years ago

If I can use the time for something else, I don’t care all that much how long a trip takes (within limits). For instance, if taking the bus takes twice as long, but I can read the whole trip, I am all for it. But if I have to connect buses, then that makes it too hard to get into a book; I am less willing to do it. Or if there is a bus that gets there without transfers, but takes almost two hours (I have been in this exact situation) then that’s too much of my day. If… Read more »

imelda
imelda
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve

This is exactly it for me, too. I currently have the nicest commute in the world – a 10 minute walk to the bus stop, and a 50-minute (seated) ride that leaves me 2 minutes’ walk from work. I have 2 hours a day to read, sleep, etc. Things that can make public transit miserable? 1) Transfers. 2) Trains not running on schedule. 3) No seats available. 4) Too long of a ride. 5) Too long of a wait for the next bus/train. All of these factors contributed to my passionate hatred of commuting in New York City. Now that… Read more »

bareheadedwoman
bareheadedwoman
8 years ago
Reply to  imelda

my last daily commute in NYC was 1.5 hrs and included walking 6 blocks, 14 flights of stairs (subtract 6 flights and add 15 minutes for escalators) two trains, up to 20 minutes transfer (and the frustration of at least 3 times a week watching your transfer doors shut across the platform waiting for your train to open) all one way…..to travel 13 miles as the crow flies.

at least when I lived in DC (pre/early Metro) and commuted 2 hours in a car, I traveled 35 miles.

amber
amber
8 years ago

Sarah, the DC Metro fare is structured in the way you suggest. Very low fares for mid-day users (aimed primarily at tourists) with extremely high fares for commuters traveling during the rush hour (and even higher if you travel during “peak of the peak”). The idea is for tourists to leave with a good impression, but the fare burden is too heavy on the everyday user. Still, traffic is so bad and parking so expensive that many commuters still use the system. My daily trip is about $10/day. 70% of my cost is subsidized through my workplace. Without that, I… Read more »

Paul
Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  amber

When I lived and worked in DC I figured that it would cost me something like $12-13 per day to use the Metro (not including getting to the Metro station), and it it cost around $10 to drive, not including insurance which I would have had to have anyways.

Joe
Joe
8 years ago

Toronto is a city of over 2 million (probably closer to three) that has 3 subway lines and one “rapid transit” (dinky subway) line. Absolute joke. I suffer with it every day. I commute 18km via subway and it takes 40 minutes to an hour each way. 25 clicks an hour – wow. Thanks for letting me “Ride the [25km/h] Rocket” TTC. We need more subways. Street cars are a joke. It seems expensive now, but big public infrastructure jobs are ALWAYS really costly. The key is you either pay a lot now, or pay a lot MORE later (e.g.… Read more »

linear girl
linear girl
8 years ago

Public transportation will always be cheaper than owning and operating (or even storing/parking) a car if you live in a large city with good options for bus, subway, taxis, and rental cars when you leave. In my small-ish, hilly, sprawling, rural town our bus-system is hub-based (to get from one part of town to another first you go downtown and then take a second bus) so that’s out. While I do walk, bike and carpool as I can, not owning a car just isn’t practical for most people. I do know one person who goes without quite successfully, but she… Read more »

SwampWoman
SwampWoman
8 years ago

I live in a rural area. The nearest public transportation is 50 miles away. When I worked the late shift at the IRS office downtown, some of the folk that worked with me rode the bus to the ‘burbs. If they got off work 5 minutes late or had to wait too long for an elevator, they would have to wait for another hour until another bus showed up in a part of town where you could get killed for your spare change.

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  SwampWoman

I had a coworker who switched to the bus for exactly that reason – people would wait til the last minute to drop work on her and she would say “I can get that done tonight, but you’ll have to drive me home.” Usually they’d decide tomorrow was soon enough.

sir jorge
sir jorge
8 years ago

I have to take a bus, since there is no parking in or around my area of Los Angeles, however, taking a bus is the worst drain of time. The bus is always crowded, even on non peak hours, standing room only, costs $1.50 per ride, and can take upwards of 2 1/2 hours to go 8 miles. A car might cost more, but would take me to work in 20 minutes. That’s Los Angeles of course.

Will
Will
8 years ago

Public Transport: Gets you from where you are not to somewhere you don’t want to be.

IMHO the best option for most people is transportation cycling plus one car per family (or a hire car scheme) for the occasional journeys that can’t be done by bike. Public transport can form a gap fill but it is unpleasant, expensive and slow.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

I believe you left out the part about doing away with the all day pass. Personally, I appreciated the convenince of being able to buy my all day pass and not have to buy another, even if I was only going out and back. The extra $0.50 was worth not having to worry about if the machine at the far end was going to be working that day.

Becky+P.
Becky+P.
8 years ago

I haven’t read all the comments, but this is to the OP. Please forgive my ignorance, but how can you go out and come back on the same ticket? Don’t you get off the bus? I live near Warsaw, and we have to pay for each way or buy an all day pass, or a monthly bus pass, etc. The only way to not pay for two transfers would be to stay on the bus til the end and then just ride the same bus back to the point of origin–which seems rather pointless to me. I am also curious… Read more »

Sara
Sara
8 years ago
Reply to  Becky+P.

Some transit agencies include a free transfer with the cost of a ticket- usually good for a few hours. This allows someone to take a return trip, or to transfer to another line to complete their one-way trip. Some agencies, instead of providing a free transfer, sell discount transfer tickets. My household is “car-free” in that we don’t own a vehicle. However, we are members of a car-sharing service that allows us to rent out cars near our home in 15 minute increments. In a very heavy-use month we’ve paid up to $250. However, that isn’t normal, and we’ve also… Read more »

Greg
Greg
8 years ago
Reply to  Becky+P.

My wife and I have been car-light in Portland OR for the last 2 years, and we love it.

For vacation, sometimes we fly and often times we’ll go out to the coast. If we’re going with friends or family, we share a car. For our honeymoon, we travelled for two weeks along the coast with our dog, and the rental car was about $350. No reason to buy when we can rent so easily.

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

For me, the friction is my deciding factor. This was illustrated to me today in fact! I had a coupon to get my car detailed, which it desperately needed. Took the car in, rode the bus back the 40 blocks (so, 2-3 miles?). My partner and I got completely drenched in the 10 minutes standing/walking in the rain, with winds too strong to use an umbrella. When we got to our stop, the entire intersection was so flooded that we had to walk back two blocks to cross the street between lights on a blind curve where no one would… Read more »

Vanessa
Vanessa
8 years ago

I realize it’s not practical for everyone, so don’t take this as a hater hatin’ (though really, people still love their cars?). But honestly, I hope to never own a car again. I’ve done two things by not owning a car: – Been able to live in walkable, transit-rich neighborhoods in cities that I love. – Evened out my transportation expenses. No more surprise repairs, car maintenance, license fees, accidents, and thinking about gas. I pay about $50 a month in transit, and use my bike the rest of the time. Ok ok, and I probably spend $30/mo in cabs.… Read more »

Andrea
Andrea
8 years ago

I like to combine types of transportation. I will walk or bus to a business meeting or social event and then grab a bus or cab home. Sometimes I cycle part way and grab a bus or cab the rest of the way. Many times I do end up driving, but I only own half a car because I micro carshare.

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

When I moved to Phoenix, I came with only a bicycle and biked, bussed, or bummed for two years. (They had not yet built the train.) Yes, biking in the summer is hot, but you’re going to be sweaty when you get there no matter how you get there. Getting in some biking every day (or almost every day) gave me a lot of energy and reduced my need to find time to exercise – it was built in! That said: “Even if you could decide on a monthly basis whether to activate insurance or not, you would probably keep… Read more »

condos in downtown chicago
condos in downtown chicago
6 years ago

I quite like reading through a post that will make
men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to
comment!

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