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Car Alternatives for Country Folk

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According to AAA, the average cost of car ownership is roughly $8,000 per year. Fuel and repair costs are increasing, and transportation is often the largest household budget item for a Vermont family when factoring in car payment, insurance, repairs, and fuel.

It seems like we are hearing about new transportation methods almost weekly; from Uber to electric vehicles, self-driving cars to electric and cargo bikes. Many of these seem like interesting options, but we live in Vermont! How are we going to really get around in the winter, or during mud season? What about those of us who live in a rural location and commute a long way to work? Who can really make use of a cargo bike every day to commute to work? What about the cost of an alternative?

 

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While these are all good and relevant questions, maybe the most important question to ask ourselves is, “Can I do something, big or small, to change how I get around?” Most of us would like to explore car alternatives or ways to improve our commute, reduce costs, and reduce our carbon footprint, but how do we know where to start?

When looking for ways to travel without a car, small changes are easier to try and see if they work for us before considering bigger changes. Here are some ideas, small and large, that can help to guide our commuting choices:

  • Save a trip by combining errands with your regular commute.
  • Investigate public transportation options in your commuting range.
  • Find a co-worker or friend who will pilot a carpooling arrangement, even once a week or twice a month.
  • Walk or bike to work on occasion if safe and practical—Try an e-bike! Yes, that’s a bike that offers electric assistance to help you with those Vermont hills!
  • Try walking, biking or taking the commuter bus to appointments or meetings.
  • Learn about electric car (plug-in or hybrid) options. There are more available every year, and you can explore them to see if they may be a good option when you do replace your car.
  • Consider leasing an electric vehicle for commuting purposes to see if this option works for you.

There are days when public transportation or the carpool won’t work because of a mid-day doctor’s appointment, or school events right after work, but let’s not allow these days to prevent us from breaking the solo commuting habit. Look at your commute from a different perspective and think creatively. Change can be hard, and sometimes when we try something new that takes us away from our usual routine, it can feel challenging. But think of the benefits.

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