In this article we are going to look at public transport via the private vehicle. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, yet routine and personal circumstances will often define which is the most appropriate to your lifestyle.
One of the most important advantages of owning a car is convenience. It allows you the freedom to go anywhere you want whenever you want. There is no hanging about waiting for public transport to turn up in potentially bad weather.
A second point which favours the car is comfort. You can control the temperature, listen to the radio etc. And you always get a seat!
A third big advantage is that you can complete the journey without having to make changes. It is very rare a bus will pick you up outside your house and drop you off at your destination. So you will often have to either walk some of the way, change buses, trains etc. In a car you can drive from your house to your destination in one go and this can knock lots of time off your journey. It is also true that some journeys simply cannot be made on public transport as due to the location of your destination and the lack of public transport covering the area.
The car is also an essential lifeline for people living in remote rural areas as a link to their community shops and services.
With convenience comes cost. There are many costs associated with owning a car. Firstly learning to drive can be prohibitive, with lessons often out of a lot of peoples budgets. Once you have passed your test buying a car can also prove expensive. It is often the case we have to buy cheap second hand cars as new cars are very expensive. Sometimes this is fine and you can have a reliable car, but other times you pick one up that’s not been well maintained and can cost you a fortune in repairs and keeping it on the road.
Petrol prices generally go up, rarely coming down even when global fuel prices go down. This is an ongoing expense too, a car is useless without fuel. Picking a car with a smaller engine can save fuel and modern cars also have been designed with better fuel economy, but as I have already mentioned modern cars cost more money upfront.
Other costs include insurance, road tax, MOT and servicing which all add up over the course of a year and should not be forgotten when choosing a car, generally the more powerful the car is the more expensive the running costs tend to be.
Parking can be expensive or hard to find or both. Busy residential streets in towns and cities can prove particularly hard to live with.
Public Transport: Advantages
It is clear from an environmental point of view public transport is a cleaner form of transport. Many people sharing one polluting vehicle is better than each driving their own. For many people this is becoming an important issue.
If you use public transport you spend on your journey as and when you need to travel, whereas if you own a car you are paying for it all the time, even if you are not using it, as insurance, tax and MOTs need constantly maintaining.
If you live in a town or a city where the public transport networks are regular and offer a multitude of routes it makes sense to use it. Especially in big cities like London where the tubes offer a great service, allowing you to travel all over the city without the stress of driving on the busy roads or having to pay the congestion charges.
It is quite expensive if you just use public transport now and again but if you use it regularly there are savings to be made. Season tickets and buying weekly tickets can save you quite a bit of money and also add to the convenience as you don’t need to make sure you have the correct change on you all the time.
Public Transport: Disadvantages
The more remote your location the less use public transport is to you. Even in places that are not that remote, bus routes can be hard to find. In villages outside towns there may only be one bus that travels one route only once every hour or two. This doesn’t lend itself to convenience. You often have to arrive at your destination much earlier than necessary as the alternative is being late. This eats into your personal time as more time has to be allocated to travel.
Having to change buses or trains can also be problematic. If the first bus is late it can mean you will miss the second bus, and this can have a knock on effect and make you be late for your appointment. Waiting in the wind rain or snow for a bus that is late can also cause you enormous frustration.
At busy times of the day, especially when commuting public transport can be overcrowded, you may have to stand or be squashed in with people. This can be very uncomfortable especially if the people around you are not respectful of your space.
This is obviously not a clear cut issue. I think it really depends on where you live as to which form of transport is the most suitable. For some public transport is not an option as it doesn’t cover their locations. For others public transport is the only option due to affordability or lack of space to keep a car. Many people however do have a choice and don’t realise the alternative option may be better for them economically. Making a change to the way you travel may allow you some extra money which you can spend on more exciting things like holidays and leisure time.
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