Saturday, 3 November 2012

Planes, Trains.....

...and Automobiles.

(Or more accurately, cars and busses!)

 For a number of years, my husband and I ran two cars. He needed a car because his office was forty miles away, and he travelled all around the region as part of his job. I assumed that I needed a car in order to get to work, and to drop off and pick up my daughter at her out of school club.

 However, we reached the point where the car that I drove was really beyond repair. My first thought was that I needed to replace it, but then I reconsidered. There was a reliable and frequent bus route from my home to my place of work. Also, one of my colleagues lived close to me, and I felt sure that she would be willing to give me a lift. The one difficulty was getting my daughter to a from her club, but she was only going to be there for a few more weeks.

 After some thought, I decided not to replace my car. My friend was happy to give me a lift, and I was happy to chip in for petrol. We got on really well, and were both happy with the situation. I was happy to be living in a slightly more Eco-friendly way, and my budget really wasn't missing the running costs and upkeep of running my own car.
 Unfortunately, after a few oaths my friend moved abroad, and I had to reconsider my options. There were other colleagues who live near me, and offered lifts, but there was no one whose working patterns coincided well enough with mine to make regular car sharing a possibility. This left the bus. Cost wise, a weeks bus travel was equal to the fuel costs of driving a car. However, I wouldn't have to tax, service or MOT the bus! The journey took about 40 mins each way. In the morning, the bus was very quiet. It became my favourite part of the day. I had forty minutes entirely to myself. I would usually spend this time reading my bible and praying. On the way home, the bus would be pretty crowded, usually with old ladies, who were always happy to have a chat, and shared their mint imperials and werthers originals! If I wasn't chatting to one of the other passengers, I could catch up on some reading, or even play a game on my phone. There were some inconveniences. The times of the buses weren't always convenient, especially if I had to work late. However, I was usually able to accept the offer of a lift from a colleague on these occasions.
 Then, circumstances changed again. My husband changed jobs, and no longer needed the car for work. He found his bike more convenient, as well as a useful form of exercise. My daughter became a student where I work, and the cost of bus fares for us both to make the same journey was ridiculously expensive. So, the car is now driven by me. I appreciate the convenience this brings. The reduction in travel time, the freedom to drop in and visit my mum on the way home, or pop to the bank, and never having to stand around waiting for the bus in the rain. However, I really, really miss the bus. I hate being responsible for the car. I have no mechanical intelligence at all, and am wholly reliant on the RAC if anything goes wrong. Most people would assume that having a car brings freedom, but I feel like it's a bit of a ball and chain. If only bus fares were more reasonably priced, I would be more than happy to leave the car at home. Maybe if the powers that be ever get really serious about addressing environmental issues, then this will be something they will address.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting you posted this. I recently left a comment on another frugal blog after its writer had somewhat brutally informed someone that they could just go without a you are obviously very aware, this isn't always an option is it, as much as we might like it to be. We have precious little decent public transport around here - no direct bus to the railway station which is 2.5 miles away, and the buses we do have are ludicrously priced. MrEH and I currently car-share for work travel - the diesel costs about £120 a month and we set aside £75 a month against other expenses for that car. On top of that he has £80 a month for onward travel from outer London. If we were to swap to public transport, just his train fare alone would be £294 a month - that's already more than the car costs us without even considering my travel, or the fact that he would be faced with 8 miles per day walking on top of that train journey!
    If public transport were viable, and affordable, for our routine commutes, we would love to use it, but until then, we too will be sticking with our cars!