Commuting Is a Breeze!

Most households in the United States have a car or two, or three. Or more! On the flip side, I recently read where 30% of the households in San Francisco are car free.  I can easily understand how practical public transit and a severe lack of parking would support that percentage.

I wonder what percentage of households in San Luis Obispo are car free. With our high student population, it might be as high as 9 or 10%. Our household is not car free. We have a Honda Civic and a Nissan Pickup. Both are basic vehicles and both spend the vast majority of their lives parked. Public transit allows us to park them.

It's still dark at 6:57!

Our regular transportation is either the bus for getting to work, or our bikes for trips around town. And sure, there are times when the gravity is extra strong, or we’re feeling extra lazy, or it’s just simpler and easier to drive. Even though, the cars get driven fewer miles than we ride on the bus by far, and the bikes get closer to the same use in miles as the cars.

We commute 5 days a week most weeks: Liz to to Santa Maria and me to Grover Beach. Commuting used to be an expensive and stressful daily trek to work. Traffic could be heavy, gasoline expensive, and the attention to driving made the trip less than relaxing.

Did I mention the cost is high? Each of us typically used a tank of gas per week. That’s just for the drive to and from. Somehow the act of using the car regularly to get to work makes using it easier for other trips as well, so the cost for gas is even more.

These days we’re finding that commuting is easy.

Liz in the mobile office.

 

On the bus someone else drives. That frees us up for correcting papers, reading, talking or just quietly looking out the windows at the passing scenery that we might miss while driving.

With a monthly route pass the cost of the commute drops dramatically. $40 is the cost for unlimited trips over 31 consecutive days. If I spent $200 each month before, I’m can save as much as $160/month, or about $1900 each year. As gas prices increase my savings will too, and I love how infrequently the truck needs to be filled up these days.

Note the racks on the front. Bikes fit right there!

Not all is sweet and good on the bus though.

Our bus, the Route 10 Express, departs the SLO Government Center at 6:57am. I need to be at work at 8:00. If I were to drive I could leave at 7:45. Yep- 6:57 is early. There are buses that leave at 6:33 and 7:33, but one is too early and the other one gets us to work too late. So the time is inconvenient.

When I drive, I drive right to the parking lot at my school and walk the remaining yards to my classroom. My bus stop, however, is about two miles away. For that I take my bike and pedal from there to my school. It’s easy to do, but inconvenient.
Bus commuting takes a certain amount of planning. In a car you can just go at any time. The bus requires you stick to a schedule and be ready when the schedule says.

On balance the bus works well for me. I save money, reduce congestion and lessen the amount of pollution I’m responsible.  I also get a bit of exercise and generally have a relaxing commute.

So yes, I do think commuting is a breeze. It’s worth a look if you work in one of the cities served by the service, and that’s all of the cities in SLO County. Check it out.

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