I have given up car ownership to save money. Reducing my carbon footprint is fine, getting more walking in is great, but I did it for the savings. I don’t have car payments and insurance bills. I don’t worry about gas prices, maintenance, repairs, parking tickets, change for the meter. Depending on where one lives and what the children’s needs are, public transport in the city makes it a viable option. While I haven’t done the math, I imagine I have saved a bundle spending a number of years without a car in Boston, New York City, London and San Francisco.
Most importantly, two sheltered bus stops served by three lines are on the corner and another one is two blocks away. I have gotten used to factoring in the extra time for waiting, although more than 15 minutes is quite unlikely. Getting a seat on the bus is not a given, and hanging on as we navigate San Francisco’s steep hills is pretty tricky. I’ve been stepped on and sat upon, and I’ve unintentionally done the same to others. But a ride is $2, so that’s a deal. Expectations? The wait for the bus will take longer if you’re in a hurry or it’s raining.
The sharing economy is another back-up for going car-less. Lyft and Uber are on my speed dial, since taxi service is highly unreliable in San Francisco. I use the rideshare cars infrequently, but they’re quick, reliable, friendly, and deliver outstanding service at good value. When I must have a car or a van for heavy lifting, shopping, or out of town journeys, I use Zipcar. Their nearest depot is a gas station less than 10 minutes’ walk from home. You book online, swipe your membership card on the windshield and drive. Minis, wagons, hybrids are available at different prices; on average you’re looking at $10 or $11 per hour including gas, insurance and 180 driving miles per day. Zipsters can top up the insurance at $75 annually for more comprehensive third party liability. No cars available for a last-minute booking? I have half a dozen other Zipcar locations are within walking distance. If time gets away with you, they’ll text you to offer an extension without penalty before your reservation expires. The downside is that the car must be returned to the same location, so for an overnight, you’d be paying when you’re not using the car.
SuperShuttle is my answer when it comes to airport rides. Yes, it’s annoying to tack on extra stops for other van passengers, but at about $20 ($10 for an additional passenger when reserved in advance) including gratuity, I just use the time to unwind and catch up on emails. And, sometimes, I get super lucky on an empty run.
Self congratulatory moments
When I want to treat myself to a car rental, taxi, Uber, Lyft or Zipcar, or even a flight, I can do it without guilt because I save more than $500 a month. Plus, I am earning by renting out my parking space to a neighbor with more cars than drivers in his household.