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Archive for January 10th, 2009

And now for the number we’ve all been waiting for….$456.73.  That’s the total amount spent on gasoline for my car in 2008.  This includes two round-trips to Cleveland and a round-trip to Toledo.

For those following my COTA Challenge you’ll remember that the it started last January when it was announced that the oil companies had earned record profits.  It wasn’t that I was against profit making, rather I was tired of hearing people complain about it.  The biggest complainers where those who were contributing the most to the profit making.  The goal of the COTA Challenge was two-fold.  1) to see how much money I could save by eliminating use of the car whenever possible and 2) to have a way to bow-out of the ‘gas is too expensive’ bitch fest.

In January 2008 I decided to take the bus to work whenever it was convenient.  I began comparing the cost per trip for driving to work and using public transportation.  Public transit trips were slightly less expensive than driving.  I was using a monthly transit pass so I leveraged it by taking the bus to work even when it wasn’t convenient.  Over the course of the year, my idea of convenient changed.

I used to think that catching the 05:50 bus to work was inconvenient until I learned to grab forty winks along the way.  I used to think that I was missing out on valuable time at home because my commute by bus is 55 minutes each way.  Between books, pod casts and mobile e-mail, it has become the best “me” time of the week.  I no longer have to navigate between stressed-out commuters and lined-up on/off ramps.

Learning to shop local was another benefit of using public transit.  When convenience meant not having to play dodge-ball on the freeways I decided it was easier to take the bus or walk when shopping.  The concept also led to less spending.  You can’t buy what you can’t carry.   The additional walking allowed me to lose twenty pounds within four months.

There were a couple times that I cheated and used the car when I had to pick up things for the yard or house.  There are times that I have to use the car to get to and from work and I’ll stop along the way just because I’m already out.

Over the course of the year I’ve met more of my neighbors and see them more often.  If we’re not on the bus together, we often cross paths along the way.  I’ve made a couple new acquaintanceships with regular riders.  I’ve never been late to work because of public transit.

I did get caught in a down pour one afternoon on the way home from work.  I was soaked. Soaked to the degree that it looked as if I’d just emerged from the ocean.  It was that day that one of the State’s economic advisors introduced me to Cleve Ricksecker when we bumped into each other on the #16.   On more than a few occasions starry-eyed sub-urban drivers have nearly nailed me in crosswalks, likely because they’re not expecting pedestrians.

Life is far less stressful and I’ve got more money in the bank than ever before because I’ve reduced the need to buy gasoline.  The car will be paid off in less than a month and that will equate to more savings.  Because I’m not driving all that much, I don’t have to think about buying another car for years – and ideally, never again.  The way I figure it, the savings allow for an additional trip to Europe each year and a few more weekend trips to Chicago via Amtrak or MegaBus.

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