Image by biofriendly
No matter what form of transportation you use, one of the key things you should factor in is cost to you and the environment. How much does it cost to run that vehicle? How much is your car polluting the air? How much will a proven fuel additive help lower emissions and improve fuel economy? Is it better for the environment and less costly to you to use public transportation? Is time a factor in whether or not you are using public transportation? How easy is it for you to get to the bus or train station? Is there a station near your work? All of those questions are a factor when it comes to deciding what form of transporation is best for you.
We’ve been doing that in our family and continue to find new ways to cut down. First of all, out of necessity, we became a one-car family. Even though we have two kids and a 70-lb dog (who goes with us a lot of the time), we just didn’t want to continue to make 2 car payments or pay twice as much insurance, especially since I work from home. We also recently moved and there are a lot of stores and activities in close proximity to us, so walking is a great way for us to get around (when it isn’t 103 degrees outside). Getting rid of one car saved us about $500+ per month on just car payments/insurance, not to mention gas, maintenance, repairs, etc. It also saved about 9 tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment every year.
Shortly after that we started driving my husband to work one day a week so that we could use the car. We use it to go visit the kids’ grandparents. We manage to see two sets of grandparents every time we do it, so it saves us time, gas money and emissions. To further save gas/mileage, my husband car-pools home from work those days.
Then our most recent step was actually started due to a new program his work set up. They now pick up employees from Union Station in downtown L.A., if they ride train to work. His office is about a 10-minute drive from Union Station, so prior to the new program, it didn’t really work for him to take the train to downtown then try and catch other lines/buses to get closer to work. It took too much time and he would arrive at work late. But since his company set up this new shuttle service, it has been working great. He takes the train once or twice a week, when he needs to go to his downtown office, and the company picks him (and others) up. He likes it because it is a lot less stressful, he gets to relax or work on the train, it doesn’t cost us as much and is less wear & tear on the car. Oh…and did I mention, when he buys a 10-trip pass and uses it, his company reimburses him for 50% of the cost.
So, no matter who you are or what actions you are currently taking to curb your transporation costs and pollution, take some time to research what else you can do. You may be pleasantly surprised as your city may have just the right program for you. For example, in New York there is a group call Transportation Alternatives and their mission is “to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile, and to advocate for bicycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives”. In the San Francisco and Boston areas, there is a car service called PlanetTran which provides “the Nation’s first public auto service to utilize ultra fuel efficient hybrid vehicles exclusively”. In Portland, in addition to being a bike/pedestrian-friendly city, they have Tri-Met which includes buses, the Max light rail, WES commuter rail and the Portland streetcars, one of which can pretty much get you anywhere you want to go in Portland.
But no matter where you live, big city or small, you can always check the websites of your local Metro trains, buses and even the EPA has a great “Green Vehicle Guide” to help you cut costs and environmental pollution. What are you waiting for?