No Car. No worries.
I took an Environmental Sustainability class a few terms ago. Our main goal was to make a lifestyle change for the sake of the planet. There was one in particular that really surprised me.
A guy named Brett wanted to rely less on fossil-fuels, so he sold his twenty-year-old orange Toyota pickup truck, and bought a Trimet pass. It was a big change, but, as he explained, he adapted quickly.
“Where do you live?” I asked sitting across from him on a bright mid-afternoon at Rock Creek.
“Milwaukie,” he said without hesitation.
I practically choked. Brett commuted from Milwaukie to Rock Creek every day, a nearly two-hour trip by bus and MAX.
That’s just too much of a hassle, I thought. I mean I admire you Brett, but come on, is it really worth it?
The following term I bought a parking pass but Brett’s lifestyle change didn’t leave my mind, not as I scurried around campus, frantically trying to find parking before my class started, not while sitting on the Sunset in stop-and-go traffic, and not when I moved to Goose Hollow, where a MAX stop lay just outside my apartment building.
“The cost of driving is exuberantly more than to take public transit.”
At that point, I did the math. My findings prompted shock, then shame, then I had to rethink my routine.
A Trimet pass for three terms is $450, while a parking pass for a year is $150. But that doesn’t account for gas. With a 20 mpg fuel efficiency and a 12.5 mile commute to school, I found out that I spend $540 on gas per year. And that doesn’t account for insurance and fix-ups.
Okay, I concluded, that settles it: the cost of driving is exuberantly more than to take public transit.
These calculations were enough for me to say goodbye to my daily driving habits. But it wasn’t just a thicker wallet that changed for the better.
I bought a Trimet pass the first day of the term and it was hard getting started. There were times I got on the wrong bus and others where I missed it all together. But I acclimated.
Once I ditched my phone for a book and got skilled enough in the art of tuning folks out, I started to love my commute.
“Now, I’m reading 50 pages a day, one book a week.”
With a long commute, I have less time to waste. From the minute I get up in the morning to the minute I leave the house, I’m preparing for my day.
I’m spending less time on nonsense like mindlessly scrolling on social media. Less time to waste equates to more time dedicated to meaningful practices.
Finally, and this one is a big one, my mental health has improved.
After a long day of school, when my brain is hurting and my eyes are droopy, I don’t have to think. Before, I had to operate a 1-ton machine for thirty minutes and find parking in the tightly packed Portland streets. Now, I just hop on the bus and go.
It’s a weight of my chest that I insist others give a chance because, well, there’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Sidebar: Each campus sells a total of 500 discounted passes, which are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis. However, the campuses, more recently, haven’t been selling out. The passes are good for any mode of transport on any day. There is a window that Trimet sells the passes. Information on passes can be found at this site.