Driving your car versus taking the bus

Tags: Op-ed
Driving your car versus taking the bus
CHOOSE YOUR RIDE: A bus emits 89 grammes of CO2 per km while an average car emits 133 grammes per km. Therefore, a car emits about 40 per cent more CO2 than a bus and only carries a handful of passengers
Given a choice between driving and taking a bus, most people, perhaps, would drive. As most of us know, driving provides easy mobility and the flexibility to go anywhere the road goes. However, driving comes with its own set of problems like high costs, among others. Taking the bus, on the other hand, limits one’s mobility and other problems such as overcrowding. But the bus ride has its pros too, such as lower cost and reduced stress in a traffic jam.

Let’s start with driving. Driving your own car, you can go wherever you want as long as the place is accessible by road. You can drive hundreds of miles without having to get off. The comfort provided by the beautiful, cosy and air-conditioned interior of your car is unmatched by any bus seat. There can simply be no comparison. You can even rest or sleep in your car when you are tired (and, given the rush, most people won’t sleep on a bus). You don’t have to wait for any schedule, you can drive your car anytime you like. You can also throw all your belongings in your car trunk and leave it there until you feel like taking it out. As long as you drive safely, you are safer in your own car than in a bus where you are an easy target for people trying to rob or harm you. The privacy you get in your car is comparable to the privacy you get in your own home. You can talk and sing to yourself without the risk of people staring at you.

However, the car ride comes with a price tag. You have to buy insurance for it every year, and that can make quite a dent in your budget. If you have multiple cars, then car insurance can really take the fun out of driving when the time comes to buy insurance.

Your car is a machine, and it can’t run without regular maintenance. The annual cost of servicing, repair, and maintenance can be quite high depending on the type of car you own and how you drive.

A car can consume a lot of fuel if you have to drive long distances regularly. Driving can be highly stressful when you are stuck in a traffic jam, which is a fact of life in cities, especially during rush hour. Driving-related stresses can cause heart diseases and psychological problems. Moreover, since your hands and feet are occupied, you are not free to read a book, type a text message, watch the passing scenery or close your eyes and sleep.

According to the US car insurance company AAA, if you drive a medium-sized sedan 10,000 miles per year, the cost per mile figuring in all of the maintenance, tires, insurance, license, registration, taxes, depreciation, and finance factors comes to be about 70.2 cents per mile. Thus, if one’s commute is 30 miles long, round trip, in the big city each day, then your cost of commute is $21 per day. One thing to note is that this cost does not include things like parking costs, traffic tickets and tolls.

On the other hand, one saves a lot by using the bus. If you commute every day for 30 miles round trip for a month (let’s assume 24 days), you’ll spend about $2 each way on a commute, totalling $96. Alternately, one might be able to get a monthly pass costing only $60, saving one $36 a month. In contrast, if you only have a car for commuting, the total cost over that month is $504 ($21 per day over 24 days), and this excludes your time costs of driving to work and back.

From an environmental perspective, one could compare the amount of CO2 emitted by a bus and by an average car per kilometre. According to expert estimates, a typical bus emits 89 grammes of CO2 per kilometre while an average car emits 133 grammes per kilometres. Therefore, the average car emits about 40 per cent more CO2 per kilometre than a bus and only carries a handful of passengers.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the world population of cars and light trucks totalled about 550 million, with annual increase of approximately 50 million. That is a lot of cars that causes pollution to planet earth. If we do the math, millions of CO2 grammes per kilometres travelled is released to the atmosphere every year.

The case for saving money and our environment by using public transportation is pretty clear. The big argument against it, of course, is speed and convenience, which is what you’re really paying for if you own a car in a large city with good public transport.

(The writer is on the faculty of Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi, India)

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