Category: Transit Transition


Transit update

It’s been over three years since our family got rid of our car. To be honest, I’m missing it less every day. Yes, there are times when a car becomes very convenient. However, I’ve noticed a few things about myself over the last 3 years:

  • As I get older, I need more concentration to drive. Perhaps it’s my old age now, but I’m much more attune with the driving (in)abilities of others. Thus, even if I don’t make a mistake, I need to remain vigilant and be aware of other people driving. The longer I drive, obviously the more intense the concentration. When I first got my license, I felt the freedom of driving. Now, more and more, I feel the responsibility of driving. I’d rather just let something else drive.
  • When I take transit, it forces me to walk more. Interesting, when I rent a car for a few days, I actually feel myself more lethargic. Transit at least gets me to go a few more feet to the closest stop.
  • It’s forces me to recognize that not everything is in my control. I think the amount of control we think we have is an illusion. Transit at least reminds me that it’s not always in my hands, and I need to relax and deal with it accordingly.
  • It has saved me money and mental worry. I estimate I am saving at least $100 a month with transit and occasional renting than if I owned a car currently. But I also don’t need to worry about a car. If it breaks down or something happens, I just hand it back. (Whereas with my own, I’d be more anxious figuring how to pay for repair costs.)

At this moment in my life, transit works well. I realize if I were in another area, it may not be a good alternative. But I’ve felt the difference in taking transit .. for the better.

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It’s been about 1 year since our family got rid of our car and opted to no longer own a vehicle. We do occasionally rent a car or use Autoshare for moments when it’s much easier to use a car. But for the most part, we try to get by with just transit (TTC, GO Train, etc.). It’s been a year of getting used to another lifestyle in a sense. Some quick reflections on our journey since then.

  • I notice that I tend to feel “healthier” when I don’t have a car. It forces me to walk more and I do feel a bit less lethargic.
  • Given that we didn’t face a really cold winter, we did get off easy.
  • I am grateful for the savings we have from not having a car (although our income did dip as well, so I guess we evened off to some extent).
  • I’ve noticed that I tend to try to maximize my time on transit. I elaborated more on a previous post called “Mobile Office“. I feel that when I drive now, it feels more like “wasted time” when I could be going through email, reading or just resting. I’m contemplating just how can I utilize transit for out of town meetings more to take advantage of those times.
  • Taking transit can sometimes be a nuisance because you need to meet their time schedule. There is a loss of some freedom.
  • Taking transit does make me slow down somewhat. I’m not as “impulsive” in going out. Outings do need to be planned more.
  • Given my cheapness, I try to utilize my TTC pass more and try to rent as little as possible (even if there is some room in the budget).

After a year, I don’t yearn for a car. I’m grateful that I live in a city where transit can provide pretty good accessibility (I don’t know how it would be exactly in another municipality). I don’t really miss driving. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been doing it my whole life. Let’s see what year 2 might bring (especially if the winter gets a lot colder).

So we’ve tried living off of TTC and Autoshare for just over 2 weeks.  We’ve done most of our trials.  And while we recognize the convenience of having a car, after much prayer and discussion, we are going to go carless (at least not own our own).  It’s been going well right now.  In the back of my mind, I’m wondering if I’ll feel the same way in the fall and winter.  I guess we’ll find out.  What really shifted us was the fact that we could remove some cost uncertainty that comes with car ownership, that would have us change our lifestyles to be a bit slower-paced, and maybe even same some money overall to help with other ministries.

So, the transition is now complete.  Let’s see how things turn out for the long haul.

So we used Autoshare the last 2 days. It worked out. A bit to get all the carseats in, but wasn’t too bad. Price is ok (though doing it too many times can really hit the pocket). Getting used to the TTC. I feel comfortable with it. Still don’t like the idea that I always have to buy child tickets, so if I want to go out with my kids tomorrow, instead of not worrying about how many times we travel, I need to be aware of running out of tickets. Just a hassle.

It seems as though we’re ready to move on without a car. Yet, a part of me has a bit of the “what if”. Right now, the cost of the car is approx. $100 more a month (but if we use Autoshare too much, then it’s a moot point). So a car does become quite handy. We are restricted by where we can go. That being said, the other side of me says that there are so many unknowns about the car (when will something else break down or tire alignment go or tires pop) that it may not be worth it.

We still have a few more days to go before we need to decide. Right now, seems like TTC/Autoshare are winning. Let’s see if we can sustain this.

We’ve been rolling solely on TTC for the last 3 days.  I found out that getting to our church isn’t that convenient via TTC.  (Easier to just walk to the 2nd bus).  It’s seemed to work fine the last 2 days with our errands and work.  (Although we’ll probably need to plan more so we don’t do have more late-night grocery runs). I’ve definitely been getting my walking in with all those transit.  Can’t remember the last time I walked so much.  I also feel my lifestyle pace changing.  I don’t feel as tired as I used to (maybe because I don’t need to concentrate on driving).  At this point, I don’t really miss driving.  But sometimes, the convenience of it is still a bit of a lure.

Just got my Autoshare access card, so that part of the experiment will start this week.  We’ll see if it’s worth doing.  To get the car for 24-hours is about $80 (including gas and insurance).  As long as we don’t use it that often, it may be viable.  But we’ll see if it’s as user-friendly as they advertise.

At this point, I almost have gotten used to life without a car.  I don’t find myself longing to drive; I don’t feel any withdrawal symptoms.  Rather, I’ve started moving my headspace towards transit and utilizing it.  I’m thinking of ways of how best to use that time, even if it’s to just chill and be present.

At the same time, a part of me wonders if I’ll be longing for a car in the winter time when it’s blowing snow and just miserable.  But, we’ll take that one step at a time.  Let the experiment continue.

Well, we’ve dived into this whole transit/car-sharing set-up.  I’ve been approved for Autoshare (woohoo) and hope to use its services soon.  But we’re starting our series of “experiments”.  Today was a trip to Vaughan Mills via their free shuttle from Union Station.

As expected, we decided to get ahead of the game and show up real early (more than 1 hr) to ensure we had seats.  It turns out by boarding time, 2 coach buses were full.  We took our time, got some lunch and prepared for our trek.  While I’m not one to like line-ups, at least when I was on the bus, I actually got to close my eyes.  That was enjoyable.  I think I may have dozed off (as my apparent snoring attested to).  We enjoyed our afternoon at the mall, went at a good pace and then boarded the shuttle to return home.  It took about 40 min. to get to the mall.  However, due to Gardiner Express issues, it took almost 75 min. to return.  This was a problem because I had an appointment that I was now going to be an hour late (and had to eventually cancel).  So what usually would be a 30 min. car-ride home was a 2 hr and 15 min transit trek.  The kids were pretty good about it overall.  Only a couple times at the beginning did they say “when are we getting our car back?”

Some pros: slower pace, got to nap

Some cons: lot more factors that can interfere with schedules

A side thought: grant it, there was about almost 1 hr 45 min that were “wasted”.  The productivity side of me says that’s not good.  Yet I wonder, maybe switching to transit will intentionally cause us to slow down our pace and to actually enjoy each other’s company, to actually waste time well (interesting that Seth Godin blogged on this today in his article “Wasted Time is not a Waste“). (There were times though when the kids’ questions were getting to be a bit much, but that’s another issue.)  Could it be that God is actually getting us to slow down our pace a bit and really sift through what’s worth doing and what can be tossed aside.  Even tonight, we’re already planning ahead but with more room for “interference”.

Tomorrow, our transit to church.

This week, our car had issues.  The radiator is leaking, the hose is broken and the car overheated so there’s a chance the engine may have been damaged.  Our car has almost 203,000 km now.  The question that we started asking was, is it worth fixing (because who knows what other problems might arise as the car gets older)?  Could we really get rid of the car and live off of TTC transit (with the occasion use of Autoshare)?  After 36 hours of prayer, advice from friends and countless conversations between Natalie and me (as well as the offer to leave our car in the mechanic’s lot for the rest of the month), we’re going to try it: let the Transit Transition begin!

Today’s journey to the pool, we missed our intended bus.  Thought we were going to be late for their swim lessons.  But we took an alternate route and just made it in time.  The kids are still getting used to the waiting at transfers.  I’m still getting used to all the walking (no gym membership needed for me if this keeps up).

For the rest of this month, we’re going to use our TTC passes to see if we can do everything we need to do with the occasional use of Autoshare.  I’ve already begun using the TTC to commute to work for the last 2 days.  We’ve also used TTC today for the kids’ swim lesson.  Some other scenarios we’re going to need to try out include:

  • going to the library
  • going to church
  • maybe the Science Centre
  • our daughter’s piano lessons in Brampton
  • trip out to Markham
  • grocery shopping

Will we survive?  Well, the next 2 days are a bit of a break since I need to rent a car for work.  But afterwards, I’ll be blogging what our “adventures” will be like.  Stay tuned.

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