I’m Out of the Car-Commuter Game
- Pete Farmer: Nice to read about the big picture of music around here. I am sure the scene will only get bigger as TC grows. We plan on helping in our own little way with a small venue at our workshop. All procee...
- Pat Weber: The music tradition in Traverse City begins in its schools- the feeder system as it were. Traverse City Area Public Schools has had a long and rich music legacy in both vocal and instrumental instruct...
- Mario: Great article Hans Well written and an important message....
- Cory Johnston: Your reasons to vote NO are reason enough for me. This is 1960's mentality being used to fix 2015 and beyond problems. While mentioned, is there any guarantee that alternatives to one driver/one car w...
- Gerald Wilgus: Much of this is disingenuous rationalization in support of a "lesser of two evils" argument. This is how privatizing profit and socializing risk is maintained. We all agree that transportation inf...
|This is my BATA bus stop in beautiful “downtown” Burdickville!|
It’s official: I parked my dilapidated Honda Civic for the last time last May. But I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, so I haven’t been very public about this massive lifestyle change. After all, I grew up in Michigan—home of the auto industry. I have no frame of reference for commuting to work any way other than in a car. And frankly, most people think it’s weird.
I’m probably not the likeliest candidate for becoming an “alternative commuter.” I live 22 miles from my office in Traverse City, where I need to be most every day. I have two girls still at home—both several years from driving age—who are very involved in a variety of after-school activities. And my wife works a couple of part-time jobs in Traverse City. That’s pretty much the profile of a two-car family.
But it’s working just fine. In fact, now that I’ve been successfully commuting for nine months without a car, I’m starting to brag about it.
How do it do it? My primary new mode of transport is BATA. I am a regular rider on the Empire Village Connector, a fixed-route service that connects five rural communities and a school with the downtown Traverse City transfer station four times each day. But I also coordinate carpool rides carefully with my wife and have a network of other commuting neighbors whom I can call on when necessary. And for evening or out-of town work travel my employer (MLUI) pays for a rental vehicle.
I’m helped by the fact that I live within one and a half miles from a BATA bus stop and work about four blocks from the bus transfer station. Plus, I have an understanding employer and wife and supportive neighbors and family. On balance, my radical departure from tradition is much more rewarding than frustrating.
I’ll confess it takes a little more planning than just jumping in my car every morning and following all the other single-occupancy autos into town. But consider these benefits:
- I don’t worry about where to park, or need to pay for downtown parking.
- I’m saving money by not filling my tank, maintaining my car, or paying for insurance.
- I have a fixed departure time home from the office.
- I really enjoy the social aspect of getting to know my neighbors on the bus—although some days I enjoy reading, working or even napping.
- I now have no guilt about adding to our community’s auto congestion, or to the atmosphere’s CO2 content.
- And I get guaranteed exercise walking or biking around town.
So, like anyone who has made a radical life change and found new happiness (read: vegetarians, yoga-lovers, runners, etc.), I’ll be talking and blogging a lot about my experience as a bus commuter. But I’ll also write about how an improved public transit system is a vital part of how our community will achieve the Grand Vision of guiding growth into existing villages and cities that are connected with transit. And hopefully I can convince a few other courageous souls to give it a try, too!