Most people with cars that function normally wouldn’t even dream of leaving their car behind and opting for the benefits of public transportation. Cars represent a sense of independence, freedom, spirit, and depending on the car, fun to their owners and making a transition even temporarily to public transportation just isn’t very high on the list of desires to a car owner.
However, car owners are also quick to stand in line waiting to pay for their precious petrol, griping desperately about the absolute ridiculous price of fuel while the happy and satisfied bus transport goes bobbing by right behind them. The price of fuel, the price of car insurance, even the price of cars themselves is becoming insane. In 1970 the going rate of a house was about the same as what people now are paying for average cars.
Fuel prices are high enough, especially over the summer months, to create havoc in the average family’s household budget. As fuel prices skyrocket, so do other prices, such as recreation. Recreational projects are also somewhat dependant upon the cost of fuel. Even the small county fair that blows into town once a year that used to provide an evening of entertainment for a nominal amount of money now costs nearly twice as much to cover the increasing costs of traveling from town to town.
So when looking at public transportation, one of the main benefits is undoubtedly the ability to save a few sheckles. If just one person in each household opts for public transportation over driving their car, most average households would save between $50 and $75 per week. During high end gas peaks, that can add up to $300 for the month. For most average households, that’s a car payment.
Of course the car will last longer as well. While it’s not a good idea to allow a car to sit unused for months at a time, cutting the use of a vehicle down to just weekends can extend the life a vehicle by two years. Considering what we pay for cars, they should last as long as humanly possible.
The use of public transportation has a multitude of advantages, and most who make the switch determined after an adjustment period that they actually preferred public transportation to driving. It’s one of the few responsibilities in life that really all you have to do is show up. Once you’re there. You’re free to catch up on the newspaper, take a nap, play a game, talk to a stranger, or whatever it is that makes the ride to and from work more enjoyable than hanging your head out the window in a frustrated attempt to see what the hold up is ten blocks ahead.
Driver outrage is certainly understandable. It is simply insane what some people do behind the wheel of a car. People have no problem pulling out in front of you, stopping in the middle of a street to unload their groceries while a pile of traffic waits impatiently behind them, ride your tail as though you can control the speed of the vehicle in front of you, and of course there’s the wonderfully intelligent idea of texting while driving. These things can make safer drivers a bit crazy. Our “me first” society is quite evident behind the wheel.
How sweet it is to save $300 a month, make the car last two years longer, reduce the stress of having to contend with the world out there for just a bit longer while someone else taxis us to and from work. In reality, if the entire country banded together and each household gave up the use of just one car during the week gas prices would tumble as the demand would plummet, congestion would significantly ease, and the environment would be just a wee bit healthier, and every American household that currently owns a car would have a little extra spending cash for the local ice cream store on Friday.
People generally prefer to drive their cars simply because they prefer control. They can’t control the bus toddling in a bit too late or the speed of the train. People have the illusion they are in control when driving their own cars. It’s only an illusion. Accidents are evidence of the illusion of control, nor can we control the flow of traffic no matter how hard we will ourselves to have such a fantastic power, and of course, we can’t control the police officer’s action when he decides to pull us over for what we considered a terribly minor driving infraction. The financial benefits are quite obvious when considering public transportation. Of course, people are secretly in love with their cars, even the beat up old beauties that are quietly working their way to the grave demand a certain loyal affection from us the same way we have appreciated their loyal service even when it seemed it was painful to give. People are secretly in love with their illusion of control.
For most people, $300 a month just isn’t quite enough to refrain from continuing the private love affair.