Goodbye Car!

Environment
July 14, 2008

So I got rid of my car!  I know you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy right now, but I swear, carless living has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a long time.  Here are some of the ups and downs that I’ve seen so far.

Benefits:

  • Bus Buddies: I have many new friends now, some of whom have brought me coffee in the morning (try getting that on a solo commute!).  I’ve also come to know my friendly bus drivers.
  • Monetary Savings: I would estimate the following for monthly car-related payments ($300 for a car payment or repairs, $200 in gas (conservative estimate), and $100 in insurance).  That’s a lot people!  In contrast, I pay roughly $100 for a monthly bus pass and spend $35 a month for 5 hours in the hour car.  Check out these sites for rates:  Metro TransitHour Car.  The hourcar website has a calculator that helps you calculate your savings.  I find that I have about 1 or 2 times a month when it’s a challenge to get somewhere.
  • Improved sensory functions: My senses have been on overload since taking the bus.  I notice new smells, hear the birds chirping, and see my favorite dog every day on the way to the bus.  It feels very “in the moment”.  I love it!
  • Challenge: Getting rid of my car has been a fun challenge.  I have gotten very creative about how I get places.  It may be a combination of biking/busing, walking or using the hourcar.  I’m getting very savvy with my bus routes now and can correctly identify most of the major lines.  Don’t be jealous- you can do it too!
  • Knowing my local neighborhood: This was the primary reason I got rid of my car.  I had this desire to support my local neighborhood, but I found that I was always on auto-pilot to SuperTarget.  Today alone I purchased food from the local co-op and bought a new scarf and sweater from a local boutique on Grand.  It feels twice as good to buy from a local businessperson.
  • Reading Time: I love my bus time.  I haven’t read this much in a long time.  I also listen to my ipod lots and basically just enjoy my stress-free rides.

Challenges:

  • Male aggression: I’ve been hit on countless times on the bus (I’m not bragging).  My favorite lines thus far have been: “Bad weather today, but seeing you has just brightened my day.” and “You’re so lovely and I will never forget that smile.  I can tell we have a connection.  I’ll see you again soon on the 21.”  Ahhh.  Well, at least I’m getting the conversation I so craved.
  • Quick stops/starts: The buses start and stop so quickly that I’ve gotten numerous bruises from when they took off and I wasn’t seated yet.  I like to think of them as my war wounds…
  • Missed connections: The worst is when you have a connection to make and you see your next bus leaving just as you pull up.  I’ve run many a time now.  I catch it about 30% of the time.  Good exercise!
  • Hauling groceries: This weekend I did a big grocery run using the bus.  I had this cool cart I got from Target, but it was too heavy to lift when full.  Sooo…. you guessed it- I used the automated lift.  I know, it was embarassing.  AND Yes, I know it’s supposed to be for wheel chairs, etc.  But I had just gotten too many groceries in one trip…. I’m learning!

So that’s it.  Post me any questions you have about it.  Check out my fabulous picture with my beloved hourcar.  I have it for 5 hours a month.  I walk 4 blocks to pick it up and buzz into the car with a key fob.  The car key is inside it.  There are currently about 12 car locations in minneapolis/st. paul.  It costs roughly $7 an hour with insurance and gas included.  Isn’t that a deal!

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