SEATTLE, Washington - Economict Thomas Sowell made the oft-quoted observation that economics is not about solutions, it's about trade-offs. Keep this in mind as you read the America Public Transportation Associations's drivel on how much you can "save" every year by getting rid of your car and using public transit instead.
APTA pegged the "savings" at $8,600 per year across the top 20 transit-ridership cities, and $10,483 in Seattle.
Yes, it looks like riding transit will "save" you money - but what about the trade-offs? What are the costs? If you ditch your car, you're probably severely damaging your quality of life. People don't have cars for the joy of burning money - they have them because the benefits of the car equal or exceed the costs. A car gives you sweet, beautiful mobility, it immensely enhances your work possibilities, your recreational opportunities, your potential for community involvement, on and on. Unless you have tons of time to burn making circuitous trips on transit to do what you have to do, or you're just thrilled with everything within walking distance of your house, you're probably making your life worse.
We don't need the American Public Transit Association to tell us what car ownership costs, or for that matter if the costs are worth it - people have clearly voted with their choices. In fact, in recent polling about luxuries vs. necessities in life, the automobile checked in as a necessity with 88 percent of the respondents, blowing away items like landline phones, televisions, microwave ovens, you name it - even though car ownership was by far the priciest item in the poll.
Each of us can make our own decisions on these matters, without propaganda outfits like the American Public Transit Association telling us about the "savings". I'll keep my car, thanks. I don't have a microwave oven, even though I can afford to line my walls with the things if I want, because I've decided the benefits are too modest.
You can make a really shit life for yourself if you want to by eliminating all "costs" regardless of benefit. As a commenter on the seattlepi.com story on the APTA report noted:
Living in a tent would save about $42,000 per year. Giving up table wine would yeild $240 per year. Using old newsprint and forgoing commercial TP would save a whopping $48 per year. Movies? Nix your montly movie night habit with the wife and you would save nearly $1,200 annually. Coffee at Starbucks? Drinking tepid water each morning would net about $600 per year in savings. Want to save big? For go kids. The cute little buggers cost you more than $13K a year...throw in childcare so you can have a fulfilling career...another $8K minium. Everything in life is not always about saving moneywhich I reproduced here for its sentiment, in spite of the massive spelling, grammar, and usage errors.