It’s been over two years since I got rid of my car, and I have no overwhelming desire to own one again any time soon. I’m blessed to live in an area where I can walk to grocery stores and bookstores, and to be in a city that has decent, reliable public transportation. As a student, I can get a monthly bus pass for $12 a month, and if I weren’t a student it would still only be $30. You can’t get a tank of gas for that these days, let alone pay for car insurance and routine maintenance.
It takes intentionality to do this, though. I have to plan where I’m going. I have to know what time I need to be at the bus stop. I have to know what time I need to leave wherever I’m at to catch the bus home. I have to allow for travel time. It’s not for people without patience, who are addicted to the instant gratification mindset that plagues our culture. But what would I do with that “lost” time if I could simply hop in a car and go as I pleased, watch more TV? Instead I get to sit on a bench at the bus stop and read. I get to strike up conversations with total strangers. I get fresh air and sunshine. I get to slow down, because it’s impossible (or, at least, pointless) to be in a hurry. I get to exercise discipline, which is far from a bad thing.
My wife Katie decided not to teach summer school this year, so she’s home for the summer working on art. She decided to get a bus pass of her own, and to save the car for things like large shopping trips, the rare trip outside the range of the public transportation system, or visits to friends that will run later than the buses run. We’ve been having a lot of fun traveling around town together. We’ve started discussing how we could make this a permanent thing, with use of the car being the exception rather than the rule, cutting down to using it only once or twice a week. A car is a nice thing, but the benefits of being able to do without it are many.