Use public transport

are words I hear often, usually followed with "it's easier, cheaper and with the mileage you're doing these days it's not even worth you having a car". Is it? Is it really? Easier and cheaper? They're right about my lack of mileage; I went from doing 30000 miles per year, to around 3000 miles per year when I opened up my little shop; that doesn't mean my car isn't invaluable to me and that it would be easier, or cheaper for me. 

Don't get me wrong, I am happy to hop on a bus or train; in fact for a lot of journeys I'd prefer it but it's definitely not easier and it's certainly not any cheaper. Let's take last week for an example. I went to the theatre - saw a show which was wonderful. It's a 27 mile round trip journey from my door to the train station car park (which is a 5 minute walk to the theatre). My car is currently doing 34 mph (really not as good as I think it should be) so the trip costs me £6.75 plus the £3.50 for parking; a total of £10.25. There were 2 of us in the car, but I could easily get 5 in. It takes 42 minutes to do the complete journey from my door, to the theatre door. I share my space with only the other people in the car - not random strangers who very often have some quite weird habits or think it's acceptable to play their music, or chat to people on speaker phone, subjecting all passengers to their conversations or shite music tastes. Yes, I am aware some trains have quiet sections; sit in one and see how many people bother to abide by that rule! 

Now, to get there by train. I'd need to walk from home to the train station; 1.5miles so around a 20 minute stroll - downhill; on the way home it is all uphill and not a gradual incline either, so add another 10 to the route. There's 30 minutes straight away and then there is the ticket. The cheapest I could find for our trip last week - which off peak - was £14 return; EACH. The train takes 38 minutes which is 4 minutes quicker than the drive, however, there is the small matter of the walk to-and-from the station so the whole route takes 58 minutes going, 68 minutes coming back. The walk would also mean we were coming home in the dark, along a road that's not well lit and has enough little areas, nooks and crannies that someone could easily jump out of. I've had a guy come out of one of the alleys before start to follow me. Luckily it was just a few doors up from a friends house so I went and knocked on their door. It's also in an area where a young lady was recently sexually assaulted; not really where I want to be walking with my little old Mum at 11.30pm. 

So is it easier? I think we can safely say "no" in answer to that. Is it cheaper? Goodness, that's a definite "No". Even if I'd been going down on my own it would still have been £3.75 dearer.

I've had to visit my Grandads home a lot in the past month; each trip to him costs me £6.50 and takes around 30 minutes to get too - unless you take the scenic route which I tend to do, in which case it can add on another 30 minutes (depending on whether I get stuck behind a horse or someone on a bike, as there are not many safe overtaking spots. Again, I can have 4 other's in the car with me for that price; other's I'm happy to share space with. If I went by bus it would take me over 1.5 hours longer to get there - whilst the bus journeys themselves aren't that long there is a lot of time in between each bus before getting the next one (it takes 3 buses to get there; 4 to come back), so straight away we've turned an hours journey (via the scenic route) into a 2.5 hour journey; this is just one way. In the time it takes to get there, I can drive there, drive back and still have time to stop for an ice cream on the way home. The cost for this is £10.60 - one way EACH and still involves a mile walk (one way). So we have £6.50 quick trip and no walking, or £42.50, an additional 3 hours travelling and a 2 mile walk. That doesn't seem easier or cheaper to me either.

The train on that route does come in slightly cheaper at £9.70 each (for a return ticket) with a 40 minute journey time, yet it also includes a 3 mile walk each way, so whilst we get minutes less travelling on wheels it takes a lot longer to get there due to the walk and is £12.90 more expensive. 

What about my trips to the garden centres? No buses pass the ones we use and if I was crazy enough to want to ride a bike on our roads these days (hats off to anyone on a bike with the way car drivers treat them) I don't think I'd fit the amount of plants we tend to buy into a basket on the front. 

If it's all the same to you I'll stick to my little Dustin Fridge, safe in the knowledge he's saving me money, stopping me being attacked, keeping me cool on a hot day, warm on a cold day and dry on a wet day, and he's also a darn site quicker than any of the other options available to me. As an added bonus he also affords me the luxury of getting in from work on a Saturday lunchtime and saying "you know what, let's go to Weymouth" a journey by car of 86 miles from my house, but one I am more than happy to do. I couldn't do that if I got rid and relied on public transport. 

On the subject of cars; I've finally got round to contacting the DVLA to see what happens to number plates that are no longer in use. My very first car was scrapped over 30 years ago; I'd love to buy back it's number plate and reuse it. Should have thought about it at the time and kept it but hindsight is a wonderful thing.