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Using public transport: Is it really that bad?

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The next time you drive to work alone, pushed to breaking point by traffic-choked streets, fumes everywhere and a symphony of horns going off all around you, ask yourself why you’re doing it?

For many professional people, having a car is considered an absolute necessity not because they wouldn’t be better off without one, but because everybody does have one. In the UK, the stigma of having a family and not being able to do the school run, trips to the hypermarket and family excursions at the weekend is too much to bear, yet there’s so much you can do to avoid driving and ultimately, getting rid of your car completely and using public transport is a very viable option that many people dare not consider.

We won’t go into the carbon footprint aspect of all this, as it’s all too-obvious and has little relevance when you’re holding down a job, raising kids and consequently living a life of constant chaos. However, it may be worth trotting out the standard environmental line if you do dare to give up your car and any of your peer group start giving you a hard time. There are some other ways you can get smug with them as well:

What are the benefits to public transport?

For starters, you can watch the envy on their faces as you lose pound after pound now that you walk and cycle everywhere. Then, you can tell them how much you’re saving and what you’re spending it on:

Ditching your car will not just net you a lump sum by selling the actual vehicle, but you’ll save on MOT, tax, insurance – and best of all, fuel. The difference to your bank balance is staggering, and what do you really lose? Is the school run really necessary? They virtually all have perfectly adequate bus services. Food shopping? Do it online and save yourself time and effort. If you’re concerned about not having enough cold storage space to make it worthwhile, a second fridge or freezer will be well within your budget pretty soon.

By now you’ll be asking yourself about bigger shopping items like furniture. What about all those lovely trips to Ikea? Don’t panic: There are car club schemes in major areas of population all over the UK now: These schemes are part-funded by the government and for a small fee you can hire cars at short notice online, by picking them up and dropping them off at designated parking bays. The cars are kept clean and in perfect working order, and can be hired by the hour for peanuts.

Longer journeys like trips to theme parks, camping weekends etc can easily be managed by hiring through conventional rental companies: It’s still way cheaper than using your own car, and again the vehicles are kept in tip-top condition.

Don’t forget about taxis, too: Once you’re not paying for a car, what was previously regarded as extravagant is well within your reach.

London taxi public transport

Generally speaking, though, you’ll use public transport where you otherwise wouldn’t have, and this  comes with some great advantages: For starters, most towns and cities have bus lanes these days, allowing you to glide smoothly past the ranks of purple-faced motorists every morning; secondly with today’s mobile technology you get to go about your business on your tablet before you reach the office – something that’s not possible whilst you’re at the wheel.

Public transport also lets you forget about causing accidents and from incurring speeding or bus lane fines. You even get to meet complete strangers and have conversations – though if you don’t fancy that then you can simply go about your virtual business or chat to friends on your phone or tablet.

Who is excused?

Obviously if you live out in the sticks you’ll need a car, period – but for those of us living in any centre of population with more than 20,000 people it makes an awful lot of sense to let it go. Think of the treats you’ll be able to indulge in with the money you save: It’ll certainly make your neighbours green with envy as you stand and smirk at them on a Sunday whilst they wash that rapidly-depreciating lump of metal that they’ve barely managed to park on your busy street.

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About Miles Matthews

About Miles Matthews

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