Car vs. bus
Advocates of public transportation claim that it's cheaper than owning an automobile and thus a useful tool to become debt-free. A well-maintained car is expected to have a 15 year service life, and a bus pass costs $45 per month. This means taking the bus for the life of a car might cost $8100, which in theory is cheaper than buying a new car + registration + fuel + periodic oil changes + insurance, especially with fuel price spikes like those of 2008 and 2011. Insurance alone is as expensive as a bus pass: in the fourth quarter of 2011, GEICO quoted me at least $50 per month.
But people who own a car cite a few advantages:
- City buses have even less cargo space per passenger than a Smart Fortwo.
- No fifteen minute walks to and from a bus stop in the weather, possibly across busy highways, possibly carrying all your groceries or other cargo. In the car-centric United States, parking is often closer than a bus stop.
- No hour waits for the next bus once you have finished your business, and no fifteen minute waits in the weather for a bus running behind schedule.
- Buses don't run when you need them. For example, one city's buses don't run at night, on Saturday evenings, on Sundays, or on any of seven annual holidays. They don't run on Saturdays at all in some parts of town. The taxi fare for that day can add up close to the bus fare for the whole rest of the week.
- Passengers are almost free as long as there is enough space in a car. Parents appreciate this.
- Citilink Fares
- New Years Day, January 1; Memorial Day, Monday in May 25–31; U.S. Independence Day, July 4; Parade Day, First day of Three Rivers Festival, a Saturday in July close to July 9 (more precise measure to be added later based on research from old newspapers?; Labor Day, Monday in September 1–7; Thanksgiving, Thursday in November 21–28; and Christmas. Source: Citilink Hours of Operation
- Citilink Route 21 map
- Technically, each passenger adds extra mass that increases the fuel consumption by a few percent, but drivers don't notice this in practice.