This year, I made a resolution to drive less and bike or walk more. It’s my little way of helping out the environment and it saves money, too. Win-win. This week I will share information about alternative forms of transportation and how much they cost. Trust me, when you see the savings, you will think twice about those cars of yours.
Pros and Cons
First off, I think we all have to admit that some cities are better equipped than others for people to utilize alternative forms of transportation. When my family visits places like NYC, Chicago, Dublin or London, we don’t even think about renting a car – the cost of the rental and parking was atrocious and, most importantly, there is no need! However, in Kansas City, public transportation can be more difficult to navigate. A car is still pretty useful. http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2010/Pages/100504_Ridership_Report.aspx
That said, the choice to make the switch to KC’s public transportation might be more dependent on your daily route and routine. Both the KCATA (http://www.kcata.org/) and The JO (http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/home) are great resources and far, far cheaper than purchasing, maintaining and driving a vehicle.
Try a cost calculator (http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/rider-services/savings-calculator) to figure out if public transportation is a viable option for you. What you save in money, however, will probably cost you in time, so be aware of that caveat.
The silver lining here is that you can use the time you spend on the bus to catch up on work, reading or even TV shows if your phone or tablet is equipped. Just don’t forget your headphones. Blaring music or television on public transportation is just bad manners.
Everybody in the Pool
With today’s hectic schedules, public transportation may not be a possibility. Something you could consider is carpooling. Talk with your co-workers about switching off every other week to drive to and from work. Another idea is setting up a schedule with your neighbors for pickups and drop-offs during the school year. If the option is available, you and your spouse may also be able to keep one of your vehicles in the garage and ride together, too.
If you’re able to, you might also consider biking to work. Talk to your employer about adjusting hours to beat the summertime heat. There are even incentive programs you can discuss with your boss, such as MARC’s “Green Commute Challenge.” And what a great way to stay or get in shape this year, too! https://www.ridesharekc.org/Public/PublicPage.aspx?ItemName=CarpoolingTips&FileType=HTML
Find Your Way
For my family, whenever we can walk or ride our bikes, we do! There’s a park close by that we often walk to instead of driving. I promise, nothing burns off that excess toddler energy like walking there and home again. Also, in past years, when going to watch fireworks for the 4th of July, we have been lucky enough to be able to walk to JCCC instead of driving and dealing with the traffic afterwards.
Find ways to make adjustments – you’ll likely be surprised at all the opportunities available! By planning ahead, and weighing your options, implementing these small changes can end up making a huge difference on both your carbon footprint and on your wallet.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.