One of my very favorite things about living in New York City during college was the public transportation. So convenient, fast, and such a great equalizer of society. The additional mixed-use zoning and population density that went along with it were major perks. On one block, I could go to the drugstore, visit a friend, go to work, buy groceries, get a DVD, and more. Plus, avoiding the headaches that go along with vehicle ownership was amazing! No gas, no parking, no traffic, no insurance, no car payments. Of course, there was the cost of public transit, but that was nearly nothing compared to all those other categories.
I have longed for the ability to walk or ride to work ever since then, but it has never worked out. I have lived in areas of the country that are either too rural, too suburban, or just not friendly to public transportation on any kind of realistic basis.
You may recall my Christmas post on my lack of holiday spirit, capped off by the news that my husband had just run his truck into a parked car. We have liability-only insurance on both our vehicles, meaning that the insurance will pay no benefits for damages to our vehicles, only for the ones that we damage. Money is tight, and frankly we just don't have the funds to repair the truck without taking out a loan or applying for a credit card. I'm not willing to do either of those things, trying as hard as we are to get out of debt. Both of our vehicles (a 2005 Civic and a 2006 Chevy Silverado) are paid for, so we don't have to worry about car payments.
When Jeff came home after the accident, we looked at each other with the same thought. Time to try out one car. Coincidentally, I had brought it up a few weeks ago: why don't we just try living with one vehicle, but not selling the other? It would be a way to trim our budget substantially. We would certainly save on gas, and if it works, we could just drop the non-used vehicle from insurance, but save it in case we ever need it again. Turns out we were forced into that plan a little sooner than we expected!
Nashville's public transportation is not known for its efficiency. There are mostly buses, with one rail line coming from the far east of the city into downtown (so it does nothing for me). It operates on an outdated hub system, meaning that if you need to get across town, you have to stop at a bus depot downtown, wait, and switch buses. If I had wanted to get from our house in East Nashville to Vanderbilt, for instance, which is on the mid-West side of town, it would have taken me about 1.5 hours each way - ludicrous! When I could drive in 20?!
But we have a few things working to our advantage in our current situation. One is that my church is directly north of our home. That means I don't have to go through the downtown hub. In fact, one bus gets me there pretty quickly. Second, we don't live too far back into our neighborhood that walking to the bus stop on the main road is impractical. It takes me about fifteen minutes to walk to either of the two nearest bus stops for the route I need. The church is directly on the main road. So, I just have to get off the bus and I'm right there.
I've done it for a few days now, and it seems to be working out well. It takes me about 45 minutes, in total - all the walking and all the riding. It takes me about 15 in total to drive. It's nice to get a brisk little walk in on the way to the bus and on the way home. Once I'm not pregnant, I could ride my bike much more quickly to the bus stop. The fare is $1.70 one way. There are some discounts for buying a multiple-fare pass, but they are negated by the cost of shipping to have your ticket sent to your home (get it together, Nashville MTA!). For $3.40 a day, 4-5 days a week, we are saving big-time over the cost of gas, insurance, repairs, and headaches in driving. And I get to read and relax with music instead of getting angry as I get cut off. Can't beat it!