Readers, on skiing, paying, and saving

From Miles in Everett: another option for car-free skiers.

Another great transit-to-the-slopes option that wasn’t mentioned in your column last month is connecting Stevens Pass shuttle from Sultan. It’s possible to take one of Community Transit’s 270-series routes from Everett Station to the Mountain View Chevron just east of the Sultan Park and Ride, then catch the Stevens Pass shuttle from there. If starting in Seattle, Sound Transit Route 510 runs every half-hour between Seattle and Everett weekdays, and hourly on Sundays. At less than $10 each way, this is, as far as I know, the most affordable option available, and of course the snow at Stevens is often better than at Snoqualmie.

Good stuff–and you certainly can’t beat the price. I do remember reading about this shuttle, but I didn’t take the time to figure out how to take the bus to the Chevron station. I’m glad someone else did.

Miles, who recently moved from Pioneer Square to downtown Everett, also said:

I don’t know whether you’ve been up here lately, but this area is getting to be a great place for a car-free lifestyle: there’s the commuter train to Seattle, of course, as well as plentiful bus options, but a lot of people don’t realize that Downtown Everett itself has become a very pleasant and walkable area that rivals Capitol Hill in terms of having everything one needs within walking distance. Even a food co-op. And, given that there’s no Flexcar here yet, it’s reassuring to know that there’s a Hertz car rental office right downtown as well.

It looks like I have some exploring to do.

From Kevin in Boston: firsthand accounts of the MBTA’s new fare system.

According to Kevin (and the Charlie on the MBTA blog he sent), it’s not working out too well. We should pay attention to this as we explore new options.

From Heidi in Redmond: validation.

In “The real reason you’re broke,” a respected money-management writer (not an environmentalist or transit activist) explains the true costs of owning a car. The main points are:

1. People spend more than they can afford on cars.
2. The percentage of income Americans spend on their cars has been steadily rising since 1995.
3. Good ways to save money on transportation include: giving up your car, paying cash for a less expensive car, and extending the time between car purchases.

Here’s an excerpt:

What’s going wrong
So why are so many people messing up so badly on such a basic purchase? There are plenty of reasons, including:

Viewing cars as a need rather than a want. Transportation is, indeed, a real need. We have to get to the grocery store and to work. But many of us have plenty of options, from our own feet to public transportation to car pools to shared car arrangements …

Treating cars as a status symbol. You can’t watch television for long without being bombarded by car commercials, and many of us have absorbed the idea that we are what we drive. It’s complete BS, of course, but some people have been so brainwashed that they literally drive themselves into bankruptcy.

Failing to consider the overall costs. When buying or leasing a car, many people consider nothing more than the monthly payment. They’re not seeing the whole picture — far from it. Once you factor in insurance, gas, maintenance, repairs, taxes, depreciation and other costs, most cars will set you back at least twice the initial purchase price over five years. …

I really recommend reading the entire article.