What if one morning, all our cars simply disappeared? Imagine it – one morning, you walk out your front door and see that the spot your car was parked in is now vacant. Your beautiful freedom machine personalizing your take on life was swapped for an oil stain in the middle of your driveway. Could you make it? Could you survive without a car?
Today I decided to turn the wheel on the automobile column, and point it in a different direction—the direction of not having a car.
Let’s face it, cars are expensive. Sometimes, they’re a luxury we wish we could go without. According to ConsumerReports.org, the average consumer will spend between $5,000 to $21,500 over five years for their vehicles. Again, these costs can vary due to gas consumption, value depreciation and fuel usage.
So any switch from an automobile-dependent form of daily transportation would not be easy. We are a nation that was built around the car, and letting it go would be a very difficult thing for the population to handle.
But is it really a terrible idea? Our lives are complicated by issues like outrageous repair costs and our favorite—increasing gas prices.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
One region service we are fortunate to have is the South Shore commuter train. According to nictd.com, depending on the distance you would like to travel, your cost can vary between $3.25 and $11.75 for your daily commute, and even less if you are a senior citizen, under 13 years old or disabled.
But for those who do not like to rely on public transportation, that resent being restricted by following a set schedule and yearn for the freedom to hop on the road at the time of their choosing, we have another option—the moped.
“The base models start at $1699 and then go up in price. The moped only needs to keep its air filter clean and its oil changed. It is usually around $40 or $50 to have them changed. They require it two times a year,” Dustin Erwin said, General Manager of B&E Honda in Valparaiso. “The moped can get around 115 miles per gallon with each use.”
Another growing trend in cities to small towns is the bicycle. There are trailers now that attach to the frame of a bike to allow hauling room. There are bikes being built with flatbeds in front of their handlebars allowing the rider to haul items ranging from children to kegs.
But what about those who abhor trains and don’t wish to arrive at work sweating from a 30 minute bike ride?
Living in the region, the idea of having buses around seemed strange, but our small towns are starting to adopt the ways of Chicago. Valparaiso is now offering a Chicago Bound bus service called ChicaGoDASH. According to Valparaiso’s city website, ChicaGoDASH offers commuters a Wifi-filled round trip to Chicago for $15. However, if you do not need to travel outside Valpo’s limits, there is always the V-Line, the local Valparaiso bus line.
And let’s imagine in this scenario that just because YOUR car is gone, doesn’t mean that cars cease to exist for others. Services such as zipcar are trying to entice the city dwellers, who only need a car a couple times a month, renting a car can save you. Heres helpful insight, it does. With the cheaper zipcar plans, you can rent a vehicle for $8.25 or $8.75 an hour. What if you need it for the whole day? All day excursions under 180 miles will cost you between $74 or $79 dollars, insurance and gas are not a cost to you.
You have options, now it is up to you.