Driving versus transit. What.

I can write about anything I want for this blog, so I’m going to talk about cars, or cars versus transit. Since I’ve lived in NYC I have not owned a car, which has benefits. Recently my Uncle shared with me an article he wrote for the automobile quarterly about growing up very car centered in my granddad’s house. My granddad did a lot for Packard car company, was a genius, and I enjoyed reading my uncle’s viewpoint very much. A few weeks ago I met a friend from Toledo in Brooklyn for dinner and he bought up the midnight drives several of us took to a skate park in Cleveland around 1998 to 2000. Finally one day at work down in the Rockaways on the boardwalk during a lunch I thought that maybe living down there with a mortgage at some point would be cool, but for that a car would be necessary. Also at work I noticed Car & Driver being prepared and flipped through it. I haven’t looked at car magazines in years. So with these factors I’ve been thinking about cars versus transit.

People complain a lot in NYC that they keep raising the fairs. As it is now the unlimited monthly pass is $89, or about $1070 a month. In NYC I’m sure the insurance for a car per year would be more than a $1000, plus gas, maintenance, the cost of purchasing a car, parking expenses, and I’m sure more costs. So it’s a no brainer that transit is a much more affordable option for the city, and I can say I live a ‘green’ life with a small ecological footprint and so forth. I even wonder if people that use transit in NYC have fewer expenses that people that use cars all across this country.

My other huge advantage in not driving is that I’m not responsible or need to be careful. When you get on a subway or a bus you are responsible to get off of the right stop, when you drive you have to make sure you do not run into someone else. With driving you can kill yourself or other people. With transit you simple get on and get off, you can read a book, or zone out. This is important to me, because I was a terrible driver.  Talking to my friend in Brooklyn about those midnight drives to Cleveland he said that I scared everyone in the car by staying in a lane that ended for a bit too long. When I moved to Kent in my first week there I was backing out of a coffee shop and I heard a crunch, I backed into a Miata. Most of my fender bender’s where in parking lots, at low speeds, and no one was hurt from then. But I was always kind of careless with driving, with switching the radio stations, sipping coffee, or lighting cigarettes. When I was 16 one friend got sore at me for weeks because I did a donut in a parking lot. I am lucky I did not hurt myself or others from my absent minded driving. If I ever drove in NYC I would need to take it more seriously and concentrate on being a good careful driver.

Now I will go on to the good things about my driving history and the pros of having one here.  Very quickly when I got my license the use of my parents ford Tempo improved my life. I went to skate spots all over Toledo, and did not have to impose on my friends to pick me up.  I think my time in Ohio I would sometimes take drives with people simply to drive somewhere. My friend Zia and I saw so many shows in Detroit and it was always great to talk for the hour plus drive up there and back. When I was at Kent I would drive Tim, Crystal, and Wilson 30 or so miles to go to suburban bookstores or coffee shops. Being in a car forces conversion and if you enjoy your company it can be a great thing.

I drove my parents’ Tempo for a long time. I had money saved up from various jobs, and living at home I didn’t have to pay rent. In 1997 with the money I saved and help from my parents I got a used 1989 volvo 760 turbo. The price was about 6,000 so much cheaper than a new car. The car looked great though, almost like a secret service fbi car.  I loved it, and my life living with cars continued.  I forgot to mention that when I was a kid my granddad gave me a gift subscription to Car & Driver, so I did have an interest in cars back then. I couldn’t afford a beamer or anything, so the way the Vovlo looked made me happy. It was black with tan leather. For a couple of years it drove okay, but then it quickly became a lemon. Replacing the engine was time consuming and gave me my first taste of credit card debt. Even though some people consider a lemon car a bad experience, I felt owning a car for the first time a positive thing. If I purchased a car again I would consider purchasing a used car. A bottom line new car is about $15,000, but for that amount you could get a whopper of a used car. Since I moved to New York I’ve lost interests in cars, that’s why flipping through a car magazine at work was so strange. I used to flip through and read car magazines every month but now I don’t have much interest in it.

Here are the advantages of owning a car in NYC. For long weekends I could drive a few hours upstate and get away with little hassle. In winter on my days off I drive to the indoor skate parks that are somewhere in Long Island and New Jersey and annoying to get to by transit.  I could eventually move down to the Rockaways if I continue to work down there.  And on family vacations I could simple drive my sister, my brother in-law and me to where we need to go instead of paying hundreds for car rentals.

This is long term pondering, and something I don’t need to jump right into.

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