hamish

A year without a car

10 posts in this topic

After my car was stolen in August 09, I made a decision not to replace it immediately, and see how well I could get around relying entirely on public transport. Well the experiment came to an end last week, as I bought another (cheap) set of wheels.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share a few of my observations on it in case someone else was thinking of doing the same, or has their own experiences.

Firstly, I should start by saying that my living arrangements are somewhat advantageous to going car free. I'm single, and live alone with no other major personal commitments, I work in the city centre (Sydney), and i live in a unit just 3-4 minutes walk from a well serviced railway station, and a great little shopping strip, so I wasn't driving much over the last few years to start with as I was already using the train for my major transport needs. If I had a family, or lived away from a station I don't think it would have been a realistic option. I definitely don't think it's for everyone.

Pros:

*A definite money saver, even with the tiny amount of driving that I was doing, in a very cheap old car, I'd reckon on being a couple of grand ahead after allowing for extra train and bus fares, as well as a few extra cabs.

*Not having to worry about parking when you go anywhere remotely busy, or even to the shops. A nice little source of stress to be without.

*Not being stuck in traffic, another spect of driving I didn't miss at all.

*The added exercise from all the added walking it embeds in your daily routine is a health bonus. I even used to drive to the Gym I go to, despite it only being eight minutes walk from my unit...

*Using public transport to get to places I'd previously only ever driven, was sometimes an ejoyable little adventure, seeing bits of Sydney that I'd never seen before, and becoming a bit of a tourist in my own town.

*I've discovered how many shops and services are available withing walking distance of home or work. So I guess it's helped local businesses in a small way.

*It's given me a better appreciation of the range of public transport options out there, and that you can get to quite a lot of things without hopping into your car.

Cons:

*The biggest negative by far, is of course being restricted to where the trains and busses will take you. There have been a few things that I've missed out on going to, as they were not accessible, or just too much hassle to get to on public transport.

*Some places, whilst accessible, can take much, much longer to get to if they're not on a direct line. Having to go into Sydenham or Redfern, then back out again because there isn't a cross city connection can take more than twice as long as driving. This happens a lot.

*Other passengers. Some people, for a variety of reasons, are just awfull (sometimes dangerous) and shouldn't be allowed in public. The amount of litter, mess, and graffiti on trains especially, is really apalling. Some aussies are just total pigs.

*Having to pre plan trips around timetables, and connections. I missed being able to just hop in the car and go when I wanted to, though I think it's improved my punctuality a little bit as a result.

*Discomfort. Your own car is generally a much more comfortable environment than your average train or bus. Trains are ok when fairly empty, but squishy at peak hour, and i think busses are always a bit crap. Even when empty they are bouncy and hard riding, and the seats are really cramped.

So overall, even though I came up with more positives than negatives, that added freedom was something I missed too much, and being something of a petrol head, I had to get another one. But I don't think I'll drive quite as much as I used to, and in general I'm more in favor of more public transport than I used to be, having relied on it for the last 12 months.

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After my car was stolen in August 09, I made a decision not to replace it immediately, and see how well I could get around relying entirely on public transport. Well the experiment came to an end last week, as I bought another (cheap) set of wheels.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share a few of my observations on it in case someone else was thinking of doing the same, or has their own experiences.

Firstly, I should start by saying that my living arrangements are somewhat advantageous to going car free. I'm single, and live alone with no other major personal commitments, I work in the city centre (Sydney), and i live in a unit just 3-4 minutes walk from a well serviced railway station, and a great little shopping strip, so I wasn't driving much over the last few years to start with as I was already using the train for my major transport needs. If I had a family, or lived away from a station I don't think it would have been a realistic option. I definitely don't think it's for everyone.

Pros:

*A definite money saver, even with the tiny amount of driving that I was doing, in a very cheap old car, I'd reckon on being a couple of grand ahead after allowing for extra train and bus fares, as well as a few extra cabs.

*Not having to worry about parking when you go anywhere remotely busy, or even to the shops. A nice little source of stress to be without.

*Not being stuck in traffic, another spect of driving I didn't miss at all.

*The added exercise from all the added walking it embeds in your daily routine is a health bonus. I even used to drive to the Gym I go to, despite it only being eight minutes walk from my unit...

*Using public transport to get to places I'd previously only ever driven, was sometimes an ejoyable little adventure, seeing bits of Sydney that I'd never seen before, and becoming a bit of a tourist in my own town.

*I've discovered how many shops and services are available withing walking distance of home or work. So I guess it's helped local businesses in a small way.

*It's given me a better appreciation of the range of public transport options out there, and that you can get to quite a lot of things without hopping into your car.

Cons:

*The biggest negative by far, is of course being restricted to where the trains and busses will take you. There have been a few things that I've missed out on going to, as they were not accessible, or just too much hassle to get to on public transport.

*Some places, whilst accessible, can take much, much longer to get to if they're not on a direct line. Having to go into Sydenham or Redfern, then back out again because there isn't a cross city connection can take more than twice as long as driving. This happens a lot.

*Other passengers. Some people, for a variety of reasons, are just awfull (sometimes dangerous) and shouldn't be allowed in public. The amount of litter, mess, and graffiti on trains especially, is really apalling. Some aussies are just total pigs.

*Having to pre plan trips around timetables, and connections. I missed being able to just hop in the car and go when I wanted to, though I think it's improved my punctuality a little bit as a result.

*Discomfort. Your own car is generally a much more comfortable environment than your average train or bus. Trains are ok when fairly empty, but squishy at peak hour, and i think busses are always a bit crap. Even when empty they are bouncy and hard riding, and the seats are really cramped.

So overall, even though I came up with more positives than negatives, that added freedom was something I missed too much, and being something of a petrol head, I had to get another one. But I don't think I'll drive quite as much as I used to, and in general I'm more in favor of more public transport than I used to be, having relied on it for the last 12 months.

If Sydney had a proper underground rapid transit system ala Toronto, Tokyo, New York, London etc you'd be daft to have one. I know folk in some of those cities that reckon its a great situation.

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I ditched my 1985 Mitsubishi Cordia back in 2004.

I work nearby, it takes less than 15 minutes walk.

If I need public transport, there are buses that go along the Pacific Highway regularly. Going to the city, on a really bad day, one may have to wait 10-15 minutes. Most of the time, buses come within five minutes. Sometimes multiple ones them turn up at once. I rarely bother looking up a timetable. As for trains, well I am within walking distance of Waverton, Wollstonecraft, North Sydney and St Leonards railway stations.

I spend about $1000 on car hire each year, either Budget for longer periods or GoGet for shorter periods.

Go Get car sharing plans GoGet Link

- GoStarter: Monthly membership $0, Hourly Rate $13.45

- GoOccasionaly: Monthly membership $9, Hourly Rate $8.25

- GoFrequent: Monthly membership $29, Hourly Rate $5.25

There are a couple of other car share companies: Flexicar and My Car Club.

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I have never owned a car. The girlfriend has one though which is handy for doing the shopping / hardware runs etc.

For me the biggest bonus is that if someone suggests having a beer or five you can because you weren't going to be driving anyway :)

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We need the car for trips to the city, shopping and anything where we *all* need to go.

Could avoid local car use if we picked up a trolly thing for shopping and a dual pram, we live a very pleasant ambling distance from the supermarket. When the other half has the car in Adelaide I am quite effectively trapped at home (very annoying because there is a mum's group on the same days he has his appts and I can't go) since we don't have a dual pram and I don't fancy herding a toddler while wrangling a single pram, we've already had her run off into traffic and I don't want a repeat of that. Unfortunately our house is simply too small to store a dual pram ANYWHERE so we're waiting for the new house before we get one, but by that time we won't need one. Lose-lose situation.

But my biggest issue with walking places is just that it involves exercise - I'm finding that even a tiny bit of exercise makes me worn out and starving and I get so hungry I feel dizzy and get the shakes. The net result is that i'm avoiding exercise like the plague at the moment :(

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I have never owned a car. The girlfriend has one though which is handy for doing the shopping / hardware runs etc.

For me the biggest bonus is that if someone suggests having a beer or five you can because you weren't going to be driving anyway :)

i've had periods of no car ownership when i've lived in the inner city and public transport is easy. when you live in the burbs a car is more essential. <Brisbane>

finance wise having no car has always put me ahead, increased cabs, a few hire cars and you're still way ahead.

when i've had no car i've missed the spontaneity that one can provide. it's difficult to carry the grocery's home too, and it's embarrassing to get an 8 dollar cab fare to carry the groceries home, i guess you can tip.

with better public transport a car is not necessary!

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But my biggest issue with walking places is just that it involves exercise - I'm finding that even a tiny bit of exercise makes me worn out and starving and I get so hungry I feel dizzy and get the shakes.

That's what God invented muesli bars for :lol:

We had one car for the two of us and a toddler in North Carlton (Melbourne) for about four years. We only used it for the proverbial Sunday drives, some work appointments and the occasional shopping binge. On the whole it was more trouble than it was worth, particularly when the footy was on and every possible parking spot was parked in/on/through by fans headed for Optus Oval.

That was a great area area to live in, lots of walkable destinations nearby, including reasonable shopping on Sydney Rd. The cobbles beat hell out of the pram suspension, though.

In the states we got by on one car for years, which over there is the equivalent of not having a car... (one person, one car - seriously) there was no public transport and not even any sidewalks, so we evolved a complicated one-family car pool system.

I guess we just felt there was no point to having more car than absolutely necessary; some vaguely environmental desire not to use up too much 'stuff'.

Now we're mired in the suburbs, and can't get by without two.

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That's what God invented muesli bars for :lol:

We had one car for the two of us and a toddler in North Carlton (Melbourne) for about four years. We only used it for the proverbial Sunday drives, some work appointments and the occasional shopping binge. On the whole it was more trouble than it was worth, particularly when the footy was on and every possible parking spot was parked in/on/through by fans headed for Optus Oval.

That was a great area area to live in, lots of walkable destinations nearby, including reasonable shopping on Sydney Rd. The cobbles beat hell out of the pram suspension, though.

In the states we got by on one car for years, which over there is the equivalent of not having a car... (one person, one car - seriously) there was no public transport and not even any sidewalks, so we evolved a complicated one-family car pool system.

I guess we just felt there was no point to having more car than absolutely necessary; some vaguely environmental desire not to use up too much 'stuff'.

Now we're mired in the suburbs, and can't get by without two.

We had a Mazda Capella that was good and reliable for deployment on the streets of Carlton. We hardly used it but it was handy for when guests stayed and the drive to Lorne was required. In canberra it's like LA hamish. 10 mins drive versus 1 hour + commute. Cars win no contest. A recent interesting development is I now work in the same building as my partner. We can share the ride to work which is good.

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Corydora, I have to admit I never really looked into alternatives like that, possibly because I'm very set in the idea of ownership, and the idea of renting, or getting cabs being really expensive, is very set in my mind, so I guess I'm fairly closed to alternative ideas. I also used to be a mechanic, so I can run a cheap car (it only cost me $1500) very cheaply by doing all my own repairs and maintenance, so that helps the economics stack up in favour of owning for me. Also goget don't have anything near where I live :)

If you are talking about comparing the costs to ownership of new, or near new cars, and you only do a few thousand km a year, then I think your suggestions make total sense. Cars can suck thousands of dollars a year just in depreciation and insurance, that pays for a lot of rental or cabs.

Tor, I almost feel that part of the reason I got another one, is to help me cut back a bit on the drinking...:beer::blush: I also, many years ago, used to think guys like you were a bit strange not wanting to drive, but my views on that have turned completely around, especially after starting to get the train to work a few years ago, and I try and discourage people from taking it up if they aren't terribly interested in it, but feel that they 'should get a license'.

Bernard, I tend to agree. We should put more into public transport, rather than roads in our big cities. Most of us use our cars too much, they've made us lazy, and we'd all benefit from using them less - more exercise, less pollution, less congestion etc.

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Meusli bars aren't enough! I take a break from gardening and make myself freakin STEAK! Had the baby weighed yesterday and he's almost doubled his birthweight., and he's officially fatter than 75% of babies his age. Basically the darn child is getting all my calories before I do. Yay for 12 week growth spurts. He looks like a pink beachball with legs. I've lost 12kg now ... my metabolism is naturally high at the best of times and I'm prone to borderline hypoglycemia if I don't snack all day, this doesn't help my case.

The other half goes walking with the toddler a lot, for exercise and sometimes shopping too, I'm the one that's currently stuck at home most of the time. We really need the space for a second pram. Everything except Adelaide (and the IP, which is aaaaaaaaaalmost sold after all this time - I've been negotiating with a buyer since JUNE) is in walking distance here, it is quite a cushy lifestyle.

Modern prams are too damn big, btw. Even folded down they practically take up a cubic metre of your house.

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