I am starting a new series on the blog that will provide you with quick, functional, and easy to use tips on how to live car-less or car-free. One of the biggest complaints I hear about living a car-free lifestyle is that it is inconvenient and too time prohibitive. In my social network of younger middle class white collared professionals I often hear that it is simply impossible to live without access to a car at all times with all of the demands of work, family, & social engagements.
I will post a tip or two a week that hopefully will give you practical advice on how leaving your car at home will actually simplify your life, not complicate it. I'm approaching this from personal experience. During college at PLU I never owned a car and by necessity became proficient at riding Pierce Transit and my bike as primary modes of transportation. After school I re-appropriated my old beater Volvo from High School because I needed it to cruise around the peninsula for a campaign I was working on. After the campaign I lived for over a year car free in Tacoma. In 2008 I once again bought a car due to the need to cruise around the State for campaign work, and then last month I had the liberating pleasure of selling my car and moving into a car-less lifestyle yet again. In all of this I've found that living car-less has decreased my stress and improved my quality of life.
Right about now you are probably calling me crazy... that is expected; here you'll be able to read #100 tips I have learned that are necessary for car-less living in the Puget Sound. Hopefully, over time these tips will make leaving the car at home for the weekend, switching from two to cars to one, or simply eliminating the need to own a car all together, a possibility for you.
Car-Less Living tip #1: Buy a Bus Pass
Sometimes I wish I lived in a world where I could always walk or bike to get around, but with our West Coast geography the truth is; transit is a crucial for mobility when living car-free. Transit works best when it is convenient and easy to use. One of the least convenient aspects of transit is always making sure you have a bundle of change in your pocket to pay the exact fare, because let's be honest, nobody wants to give more money than is due or embarrassingly not have enough to pay the fare. Thankfully there are ways around the, "my pants are falling down because my pocket is weighed down with change" problem.
Almost every single transit agency in Washington State has some sort of monthly pass that allows you to ride their system for free.
In the Puget Sound we have a nifty little tool called ORCA (One Regional Card for All). ORCA is often times criticized for its shortcomings. Its also at times praised for being visionary and comprehensive. In my experience, like any large new system, ORCA is not perfect but is incredibly convenient and works well 97% of the time.
In short, ORCA allows you to buy a monthly pass or put money on a card that can be used on pretty much any transit system in the Central Puget Sound (including buses, trains, light rail, and ferries). It is great for the occasional rider because you can put money on the card which means you can avoid carrying around a bag of change. For the frequent rider you can put a monthly pass on your card as high as the value you normally take for your trips, plus add extra cash in case you take a more expensive trip than your normal commute.
In terms of not having to worry about having the right change or cash, the ORCA card and other agency bus passes are a must have when it comes to living a transit oriented lifestyle.
Stay tuned for the next series or Car-less living tips! If you have any questions feel free to email me at Andrew@transportationchocies.org or comment below.