Monday, January 17, 2011

Benefits to Taking Transit

I thought I would outline some of benefits that I have observed from my experiences using transit:

1.  You become healthier because you have to walk to your bus stop, and walk to another bus stop if you have to transfer.  Since you don't have your vehicle available when you are at work, you are forced to make more active choices to obtain lunches, or make a quick shopping trip during your break.  You have less stress because you don't have to worry about the erratic driving of others.  You also have less stress because you don't have to worry about someone breaking into your vehicle, when you don't own a vehicle that is one less possession you have to worry about being vandalized.

2.  When you commute using transit, you free up 30 minutes that you would have otherwise spent driving.  You could use these extra minutes to read the newspaper, watch a video on your smart phone, finish up some last minute assignment or work on your laptop, do some last minute touches to your appearance, update your blog or Facebook status, chat with other passengers, or even sleep.  You can make a call that you didn't have time for last night.  Since you don't have to focus on the road and the driving of others (you have your own personal chauffeur)  you can learn more about the city you live in.  You may discover a store or restaurant that you never knew existed before.  You have more time to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.

3.  The majority of people commute alone in their automobile.  They isolate themselves from the rest of the world, away in a false security bubble of steel and glass for 40 minute as they commute to work.  When you take transit you are suddenly immersed with other people that are utilizing transit for their commutes, you are not isolated anymore.  You can no longer ignore that your actions affect others, that you are connected to your surroundings.  Transit can make it easier for people to make more responsible decisions since your interactions help you to see that other humans are out there.  Drinking is a large part of our society these days, as it is a social lubricator.  Transit helps create a safer environment for drinking since those that use transit never have to worry about drinking and driving, because they will never be driving.  The fact is that transit can act as a social lubricator for those that want it to. 

4.  There is a large economical side to ditching the keys for a bus pass. The most obvious reasons are that transit passes are cheaper than the combined costs of fuel, insurance, parking, registration and the purchase of the car itself.  Most new cars cost upwards from $20000, you would be able to commute by transit for 18 years for that price.  However some of the less obvious costs about cars revolve around maintenance.  The more that you drive your vehicle the more often you will have to maintain your vehicle.  When you drive you use up fluids, wear down tires, brakes, and other moving parts.  When you drive you constantly increase the odds of a rock chipping your windshield, a nail puncturing your tire, winter salts rusting your car, or a another commuter colliding into your vehicle.  I don't know about you but I am not a mechanic by any means, so that means that most people would have to bring their car into a shop for repairs and mechanics are not cheap.  These hidden costs can add up quickly, however with transit you never have to worry about the maintenance of the vehicles, someone else does that.   With transit you only have to pay for your fare and board a bus, their are no hidden costs or responsibilities.

I understand that some people cannot go completely car free, some individuals need to commute for work or a chore that takes them to a far secluded corner of the city.  However I propose that these individuals consider car-share programs that may exist in their area, or renting a car when they need one for a trip.  Other alternatives include walking, cycling, carpooling and catching a cab.

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