One of the most common objections to getting around without a car (and specifically, to riding the bus) is that it simply takes too much time. Though this certainly isn’t always true (many commutes are faster with PT) I do concede that some–OK, a lot of–trips take longer by bus.*
And yet, I would argue that, compared to the average car-owning parent/professional, I come out ahead in the time department. How is this possible, you ask? Because the amount of time it takes to travel by car isn’t just about how quickly you can get from point A to point B.
Consider that I never have to:
• Shop for a car or insurance
• Search for parking
• Stop for gas
• Get my oil changed
• Buy new tires
• Replace brakes/clutch/transmission/alternator/battery
• Schlep to a dealer for scheduled maintenance
• Wait for a tow truck
• Wait in line for emissions testing/inspections
• Wash, vacuum, detail or otherwise shine up
• Get a ding or scratch fixed
• Deal with insurance drama after an accident
• And et cetera
Consider also that the time I spend traveling is not wasted time. I use it to:
• Spend QT with my kids (with reading, games, and face-to-face talking)
• Exercise (can’t remember the last time I saw the inside of a gym)**
• Catch up on e-mail
• Listen to messages (OK, yes, sometimes I talk on the phone. Quietly. About appropriate subjects. Hey, at least it’s legal.)
• Prepare for meetings
• Look out the window and enjoy my city
But here’s the really important part:
Given that our family saves well over ten thousand dollars per year in transportation costs, the additional money we invest will take years off our working lives.
Now that’s a time tradeoff I’m willing to make.
*Of course, this would be true much less often if buses had dedicated right-of-way, but that’s a post for another time.
**In addition to all the walking I do to and from bus stops, for most trips of a mile or less, I usually choose to walk the entire distance. It doesn’t take much longer than driving, if you factor in loading up and strapping in + searching for parking. Plus (as I mentioned), I never have to set aside time to exercise.