Wednesday, March 2, 2011

To drive, or not to drive.

We couldn’t go car-less for the following reasons:
  • We don’t have great public transport where we live.  Taking the bus at least doubles our journey time to most places, especially since we rarely experience traffic congestion.  Most services run 20, 30 or 60 minute intervals; changing services can mean a long wait. 
  • Only a few of the bus routes operate on a Sunday; the route we live on doesn’t. 
  • A lot of places we might go with friends and family, including friend’s houses, aren’t accessible by public transport.
  • We have small children and riding bikes isn’t an option, especially at night.
We do try and go car-light:
  • We only have one car. My husband takes it to work 2-3 days a week, I drop him off and pick him up the other days.  In four years this has hardly been an issue.  Once a week the boys and I get dropped off in the morning, then we catch the bus home from playgroup.  
  • We are now experimenting with my husband catching the bus home from work one day a week.  It’s a half hour round trip to pick him up from work. If he is able to get the right bus, he can get home in less than 40 mins for the same cost of fuel to pick him up.  If he can’t get that bus, it’s about 15 minutes on the bus, then a few minutes each way to pick him up from where that bus stops (or a 25 minute walk home). 
  • I don’t make special trips. If I need to go to a specific place, I do it to/from work or kindy pick up/drop off, and group together things in the same area of town.
  • My husband has tried riding home from work, but has had a few problems with his bike and hasn’t got around to fixing them.  It’s too far and too hot for him to ride to work in the mornings.
  • We have Big Boy’s name down for school next year at the same school as my husband works at, partly to cut down on time I spend ferrying people around.  
Future considerations: 
  • If we were to move house, we would consider location in relation to riding distance from work and proximity to bus stops.   Our town does have great bike paths right along the river.
  • Child restraint laws are pretty stringent in Australia.  Big Boy still has 2 1/2 years sitting in a booster seat, and God-willing we hope to have a third child in that time. Three car seats probably won’t fit in the back of our current car, so if we need to change cars we will get the smallest and most economical car for our needs. 
  • My estimate is that insurance, registration (state taxes) and maintenance probably costs us $2200 a year, or $6 a day.  By driving less, we have less wear and tear on the vehicle which means longer time between things like new tyres and new brakes, but we can’t reduce much more by driving less.   I think $6 a day depreciation is an appropriate figure, considering the price we paid for our car and what we could get for it now.  Driving less might help with depreciation.  Less kilometres on the clock should mean more value when selling.
I would consider catching the bus more often but the only place the bus runs to is the shops, and I’m trying to avoid the shops!  We could catch the bus into the museum/aquarium.  It would be an hour on the bus each way, plus a 750m walk each way (according to Google maps), and it would cost $3.90 each way in bus fares. Alternatively, we could catch the bus from my husband’s work (15 minutes from home), which would be 20 minutes into the same bus stop, for $3.50.  That would be during peak hour, and I don’t like the idea of taking the pram on the bus in peak hour (I have a much smaller stroller, but Little Boy is still too young for it). My husband still has to get to work, which is about $2.50 in fuel.    Total cost for the day would be $9.40 - $9.90, with about 2 hours travel time (including the walk). 
The other option is to drive the 17km, dropping off my husband on our way, and stopping for a play at a park or running an errand in the time before the aquarium opens, parking just outside the aquarium, then driving the 17km home again, then having to go pick up my husband from work in the afternoon, which is roughly a 20km round trip.  Fuel for the day would cost $6 - $7, total travel time would be a little under an hour and a half, but I would also have to pay parking fees of no more than $3.  
I can’t think of many other places we go that we could catch the bus, that isn’t already on the way to or from work. 
We have no trouble living with one car, but it is not realistic for us to have no car. 

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like the place you live and the places you need to get are a bit too far apart for the public transportation and/or bike route.

    I'd think your family isn't the only ones having the transportation issues - especially with the rising fuel prices.

    Are there any people that your husband could car pool with that live, say, only a couple km away or less?

    Best of luck in your efforts to go low-car!


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