Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Bus? But where's your car?

We only have one car.  We manage quite fine.   If I need to go anywhere, I either arrange to have the car that day, or I go there on the days that I already have the car.   If the bus is convenient, one of us is happy to catch the bus.

My husband is a school teacher, and in Australia it is coming up to the end of first semester when report cards are sent home.  He needed to go into school today for a few hours, so after church he took the car to work, and the kids and I caught a bus into the markets in the city mall, then caught the bus back to school.

In conversations after church this morning I mentioned that we were going to catch the bus, and I got two screwed up noses, one with a 'Where's your car?'

'Normal' people don't catch buses here. Buses are seen as for people who can't afford a car.    But if people were the least bit interested, I'd be happy to explain to them that every 10km I drive in my car costs me $1.45 in petrol, and just owning a second car would cost us between $7 and $12 a day. I'd happily tell them that the most I would ever pay for a return bus trip is $7.40, but my usual fare is $2.20 for a one way.   I would tell them that second car would be one extra thing to look after: to service, to clean, to insure, to find a place to park out of the weather.    I'd be quite happy to explain to people that we probably could afford a second car, we but we don't really need one and can find much better uses for that money.  I'd even happily tell them what bus routes go past their house, or at least how they could find out.   I'd happily tell them how I structure my week so that we barely notice not having two cars.   I'd love to tell them how I swallowed my pride and discovered that buses aren't all that bad, even if our local network isn't quite as efficient as it could be.

But unfortunately, no-one is really interested.  Most people will just screw up their nose and say "Why would you catch a bus?  Where's your car?"

(Actually, two people are interested.  My little sister who admitted to me this morning that she doesn't even know how to catch a bus, but is interested to know more.  And my four-year-old who told me the other day that cars are better than buses because you have to pay to get on a bus.  I explained that we have to pay the government to be allowed to drive on their roads, and pay for petrol, and pay for insurance, and he told me 'and you have to buy a car to drive!'  He's getting the idea!)


  1. AnonymousJune 08, 2011

    Your message made me memorize my nice trip to Australia several years ago. Visited Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. It seemed like Sydney and Melbourne have a efficient public transport system and people ARE using it. But in Perth, even the buses are very nice and there seemed to be lot of routes, the buses were half empty. Maybe it was holiday season and all the students were out of city, but it remainded a lot of public transportation in some cities in the United States, were there is only certain group of people using buses. In Chicago I used to take a train to my hotel near airport and it seemed like I was the only hotel guest entering the hotel by train, the other people were cleaning ladies and other kind of stuff in their working clothes. I live in Finland and I think we have the opposite. If you have public transport in hand, you have to explain why did you take your car :)

  2. I discovered your blog trhough the 365 less things site. Love your work. I have you bookmarked so I can check back often. Cheers from Tasmania, Francesca :)

  3. Grace from BrazilJune 14, 2011

    And another side benefit from taking the bus is the exercise you get from walking AND some thinking/reading time on the bus because you don't have to do the driving.

  4. Yes, Grace, I agree there. Our town is getting much bigger and more cars are making driving more stressful. Happy to have someone else do the driving for me!

  5. We have just one car (I've never owned one myself and I'm darned proud of it!). I get the "what do you mean you've never owned a car?" reaction all the time. I love then asking people, "So, how much money did you spend on keeping your car last month?" Seems like few people really consider just how much that 'freedom' of car ownership actually costs them. Great post!


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