Owning and operating a vehicle is not cheap. Rising costs and hard economic times have made maintaining a personal vehicle much more expensive than in years past. In a 2009 report, the AAA concluded that yearly car owning and operating expenses range from $7,500 to $11,500, depending on the vehicle make and model. With pump prices projected to break $3.00 this summer, the yearly operating costs will increase for drivers everywhere. Due to high expenses and negative environmental impacts caused by driving emissions, alternative modes of transportation are quickly becoming more popular.
Saving money and time, consuming less fossil fuel, and reducing one’s environmental footprint can all be achieved through smarter driving practices and alternative commuting methods. Green transportation initiatives are becoming more prevalent in many cities, making mass transit, walking, bicycling, and carpooling all feasible commuting options instead of individual automobiles.
One of the easiest ways to commute is by public transportation. Many cities and suburbs have buses, trolleys, trains, or subways that expertly navigate all portions of a city. Such options are financially smart—rides cost only a few dollars each day and even less if one purchases an unlimited ride pass. Additionally, public transportation eliminates the hassle of finding a parking spot and allows one to sit and relax before a busy day at the office. Public transportation promotes a healthy lifestyle through walking, as users typically need to walk a block or two to their final destination. It encourages a renewed sense of community, allowing one to interact more with the surrounding landscape and general hustle and bustle of a city.
For the more active alternative commuter, bicycling is a great and fast way to reach one’s destination. Cities all over the nation such as Madison, WI, Burlington, VT, Denver, CO, and Pittsburgh, PA are including or expanding bicycle routes as part of city transportation projects. The city of Portland, Oregon, one of the original bicycle hotspots, has over 100 miles of bicycle lanes and paths, making it easy for commuters to use their pedal power. Newer city buses and trains have bicycle racks on-board if the weather turns sour before the evening commute home.
For some commuters, mass transit and bicycling may not be feasible options. Carpooling or van sharing are easy solution in such situations. Like cycling and mass transit, carpooling is financially intelligent. Less money is spent each week paying for things like parking, tolls, and gasoline. Carpooling provides an opportunity to get to know others outside the workplace. Additionally, it can be custom-tailored to a specific schedule; there is no need to rush out of a meeting to catch an evening bus or tram. Websites such as eRideShare.com and Carpool World pair hundreds of commuters to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
Alternative modes of transportation can be efficient, relaxing, and inexpensive commutes a reality. Bicycling, carpooling, walking, or taking mass transit enables one to save money and time, live a healthier lifestyle, gain a better sense of community, and protect the environment by reducing carbon emissions. In the realm of commuting practices, it’s about the journey and how efficiently the destination can be reached.