Miss Mom-Car and I work for the same company, we are about the same age, and I’ve noticed she’s been taking the train more and more these days. She recently moved from western Massachusetts to Boston in search of a more fun/young city atmosphere. Let’s face it, western Mass just doesn’t have that much going on. However, in doing so she’s facing the struggle first hand of having a car in the city. Parking is $150/month, it’s several blocks away from her apartment, and the commute is about 45 minutes each way to/from work on a good day. She also drives a mom-car, which is an endearing motor-vehicle but not the hottest set of wheels in the city. Today however, she chose to take the train so I sat down with her to see why.
She told me about her “Operation Liberation”. She’s been commuting via public transit intermittently in order to see whether it’s feasible to totally live without a car while still being able to get to work every day and have a social life on the weekends. She filled out the forms at work to receive the public transit commuter checks but it’ll take 3 months before she actually obtains free transit. Until then it’s not really financially worth it. Similar to Miss Lemon Volvo, every time she takes the train to/from work it costs about $18/day (the T to the Commuter Rail to the bus, all run by different organizations). So that combined with parking, car payments, gas, insurance, etc it’s not really worth it to do both without some sort of subsidy from her work.
The route takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes which is longer than I’d like but it’s so much nicer to not have to sit in traffic day in and day out. She complained about this one particular spot near Comm. Ave that she has to cross every day. Comm. Ave is split down the middle with the Green Line B Trains so you have to deal with traffic AND the trains. Apparently it’s a shit-show almost every day.
So since moving into Boston this September, she’s been taking the train off and on and trying things like Zipcar to see if it will really work. When those commuter checks come and public transit becomes free, she might be able to sell her car and save herself a boat-load of money. I mean let’s face it, the mom-car isn’t going to last much longer anyway, and it’s already eating away at her disposable income with repairs and maintenance alone ($1000’s per year for the poor old Mom-Car).
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see the benefits of having a car. For me the biggest benefit would be to easily travel every weekend without having to orchestrate finding a car. However, if your goal is to live in the city, it’s not only 100% possible to live without a car but it’ll save you a ton of money and it will probably improve your quality of life. It has for me so far anyway.
As a side-note, this coming week is Car-Free Week in Massachusetts (Sept 18th-24th). Boston joins over 1,000 cities throughout the country to use this week to promote public transit, walking, biking, and teleworking. This hopefully will educate people about the various options available besides sitting in your car and letting the traffic raise your blood pressure. Plus you can track your trips through this website and you could win free stuff like gift cards to REI, since I do this anyway I’ve got nothing to lose. Check it out.
Godspeed to Miss Mom-Car and Operation Liberation, I hope it works out for the best.