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My Transportation Diary: A Convert From Cars

By Micheline Maynard

Rob Meyer is from Ann Arbor, Mich., where he didn’t think public transportation was extensive enough to be a full replacement for a car. (Editor’s note: some people might disagree.) And when he headed west after college, the first thing he did was buy one. But then he moved to the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, and a car became less important.

Here’s his Transportation Diary, in prose and data.

“I grew up in Michigan (Ann Arbor) where there was a big car culture and where public transit wasn’t extensive enough to be a full replacement for a car. When I moved to Bellevue, WA after college, it seemed like a no-brainer to get myself a car. The east side [of Lake Washington] is much more suburban and spread-out than Seattle proper, so having my own car was quite convenient, but not as necessary as it had been back in Michigan.

I later moved into Capitol Hill, Seattle, and fell in love its higher density of bars, restaurants, and entertainment options. Not only did Capitol Hill have more available within walking distance than Bellevue had in 20-minute driving distance, but plentiful bus routes made venturing to more distant parts of Seattle easy. Plus, you never have to worry about a parking or a designated driver when you’re walking/busing everywhere.

And if that weren’t enough, the 545 Metro bus would get me most of the way to work while Microsoft (my employer) also has a private bus system to help get employees to and from work.

It didn’t take long before I realized that my car wasn’t providing enough value to warrant the cost of the lease, insurance, gas, maintenance. I added up all my car-related expenses and realized that if I simply allocated some of that pile of money to cabs & rental cars, I would come out far ahead in the long term. Continue reading

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