Living Without a Car – a retrospective

To be honest my “Living Without a Car” journal has become a bit mundane and as result I am only recording extraordinary events, or occasionally ones that make me smile. Take last week when my wife Fiona offered to give me a lift to our local station (Yarm) on a…

To be honest my “Living Without a Car” journal has become a bit mundane and as result I am only recording extraordinary events, or occasionally ones that make me smile.

Take last week when my wife Fiona offered to give me a lift to our local station (Yarm) on a very cold wet morning.  The station is only 1.5 miles from my home so it only takes 5 minutes by car. I’m a bit of a worrier so we got in the car 20 minutes before the train and my wife tried the ignition – nothing happened.  Switched off and on a number of times and still nothing – was the battery dead? No, all the lights were on….  but nobody was in!

Repeated the exercise a few times but not a sausage! – and only 12 minutes left before the train.  I had an important meeting to get to at our HQ in Hull so there was no time to mess about – “I’m getting my bike out” I declared and jumped out of the car.

I rapidly assembled the fold-up bike and cycled off with adrenalin driving me on – 8 minutes left!  The road to the station dips significantly and to my horror I saw a flooded road ahead – undaunted I selected the 3rd gear and pedalled with all my might, lifting both legs in the air as I coasted through the flood – just made it through before I lost momentum.  Made the station just in time to retrieve my pre-booked ticket from the machine and jumped on board – panic over but very hot and bothered.

Fiona gave up on the car and took our dog for a walk when she noticed a black flat cap in the gutter (yes it was mine) – dried out OK but it’s a little bit tighter than it used to be.

Fast forward to the next week:

I decided to head for Hull the night before along with my dog (Marley) as Fiona was going on a girls’ away day in York and didn’t want to leave the dog alone.  She took me to the station on Sunday evening to make the last train to York at 20.55.  All went pretty well with sufficient time at York for ‘hoppy’ refreshment in the York Tap.  The dog was loving it…. as you can see!

Arrived at my Hull Flat around 11pm and hit the sack.

Monday morning I went into my office and my mobile phone rang – who had changed my ring tone?….  and why am I ringing myself?  Oh dear, I must have picked my wife’s phone up when I got out of the car, nightmare!  Had an annoying week (as did my wife) answering calls for one-another and trying to explain what had happened…..  not to mention the WhatsApp messages  “Why have you given a wave to Jane Ackroyd” she asked argghhh!! – because we went to Junior School together!

Anyway, back to the travel thing – I have been analysing my spend on public transport compared with running my car, and it’s quite interesting.

In the year before giving up my car my costs were:

Fuel:                  £2,584 (av/mth £215)

Car Lease:         £7,050 (av/mth £587)

Train Fares:      £2,504 (av/mth £209)

Parking:            £133     (av/mth £11)

Total                  £12,271 per annum

Car Free (5 months, annualised):

Fold-up Bike    £350 cost (no maintenance as yet)

Train Fares:      £2,670 (av/mth £222.50)

Parking:            £0

Total:                 £3,020 per annum

Interestingly my train costs are only marginally higher (although train fares have increased since I went carless); and, having a Senior Bus Pass, I get that service for free – and I make the most of it!

The other thing I observe on trains is passive fraud (and the opportunity for it) that seems to be pretty common.

People who board the train and ignore the ticket inspectors request “any more tickets that haven’t been checked?”.  You can spot the dodgers who look for where the inspector is on the train, pop in the loo until he has passed and head to the other end of the train.  I saw a ticket inspector eyeball one the other day and he gave me a wink.  The lad had moved down to the last carriage as the train came into his station and the inspector spotted him and intercepted him on the platform – the lad said he would have bought one if the ticket inspector had been there and proffered him a £20 note. The inspector had no change (the lad knew it) so he had to let him go with a good telling off saying he would be watching out for him next time – probably water off a ducks back!

The other thing is the opportunity for passive fraud on open return tickets – many of the inspectors just look at them and don’t mark them with the date, meaning that they can be used a number of times – could easily be solved by tightening up procedure.

Would I go back to having a car?…..  I don’t think so.  On the whole it has been a pretty good experience that has taken some of the stress out of my life.

If a problem occurs I just roll with it and take the view that if I can’t do anything about the situation, it’s not worth worrying about.  Whereas in a car the tension and frustration just grows because you have no idea of how long the delay will be – at least on the train you are kept reasonably informed and the Delay-Repay option (which I always take advantage of) is reasonable compensation.

By the way, did you know that our Delay-Check service is the most advanced delay-repay system on the market!

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