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I want a car.

The urge comes almost daily when I’m faced with a daunting one-hour bus and subway ride to and from work. The urge is particularly heightened when I’m forced to wedge myself onto a packed bus, hold 50 pounds of groceries or a hockey bag and stick in one hand, and hang on to the pole for dear life while the bus driver stops and starts with reckless abandon.

It’s not a fun time. I’m sure many of you can empathize.

Is transit an option for you?

Since the beginning of time, a car has always symbolized freedom. Car commercials all show people cruising on winding, wide open roads, blasting through the outback, or carting kayaks to campgrounds. It looks glorious.

That’s not the scene I get whenever I pass by any major highway in Toronto, though. Those same SUVs and sportcars from the commercials look almost claustrophobic amidst all the gridlock. It’s during those moments that I gain a bit of perspective. While I certainly miss the travel comforts of having my own space, I do enjoy the fact that I can get on transit and sleep, read, or completely zone out for a while. It’s one of the fringe benefits.

So what’s the main benefit? Saving some serious money, obviously. BIG money.

The Toronto Transit Committee (TTC) released some crazy statistics recently that made me really rethink any desire to buy a car in the foreseeable future.

  1. The price of gas: Costs have gone up nearly 20% for each of the last three years
  2. Car costs: Owning and operating a car in Toronto costs approximately $8,900-$12,000 a year
  3. Parking: Urgh, this is the killer. The Toronto average is upwards of $4,000 per year!

That doesn’t even factor in the cost of the car itself! Scary, huh?

So what do I pay?

Well, I put up with longer commutes, encounter poor hygiene and occasionally endure some frustratingly lengthy wait times, but I have unlimited travel and a federal tax credit for just $1,386. Economically (and environmentally, I might add), the decision is a no-brainer.

There will certainly come a day when I’ll become one of those gridlock-ers, but not yet. Not while I’m still saving from scratch.

How do you save on transit? Is carpooling an option for you?