Blog: Carless Commuters

A few brave souls are going carless as part of getDowntown's Commuter Challenge. And so Concentrate has invited them to share their commuting experiences and offer up their thoughts on why Ann Arborites should consider alternative forms of transportation. Check the blog all week for their posts.

Post 3: Lynne Fremont

Lynne Fremont lives in Ypsilanti and commutes to downtown Ann Arbor. Sometimes she drives, sometimes she takes the bus, sometimes she telecommutes. She is the technical support person for Above the Treeline, which is a business intelligence tool for bookstores and publishers.

Richer, Drunker, Smarter, and More Relaxed!

I work in downtown Ann Arbor but I live in Ypsilanti. That presents me with a daily problem. How can I get to work and yet still afford my lavish lifestyle? How can I survive a Michigan winter when I loathe driving in snow? How can I find time to read all the books on my shelves? How can I have beers after work without risking running afoul of the law? It turns out that the answer is easy thanks to getDowntown and my employer who have teamed up to give me my very own shiny GoPass!  (which also gets me a discount on my morning coffee at Sweetwaters...helloooo GoPass!)

To be honest, I don't ride the bus every day. As it happens I enjoy driving my car, my beautiful 13 year old rusting green Jetta. The thing about driving an older car, however, is that it likes to take overnight trips to the mechanic. The only reason I can keep such an old car is because I can get to work without it. People don't often consider how valuable a good public transportation system is if they don't ride it every day but they should. Even newer cars break down now and then and taking the bus to work is a good plan B, especially in a single car household. I don't have to buy a new car which saves me thousands of dollars even if I never ride the bus.

Also, not buying a new car saves the environment because no resources need to be used building me a new one. Yup, that's right. Even if I never rode the bus or telecommuted, just having alternative commutes available saves me thousands of dollars and the environment. What a deal.

As it happens, I do engage in alternative commutes such as telecommuting and riding the bus. There are few things I hate more than driving in the snow and as this winter has proved, there are lots of snowy mornings for me to face. Sometimes I telecommute on snowy days which is nice once in a while. There is a luxury to working in one's pajamas while drinking hot cocoa and watching it snow outside. But  I miss my wonderful co-workers which leaves one option. The bus. 

My very favorite moment this winter occurred while I was riding the bus home from work on a snowy afternoon. The roads were terrible. At one point during a turn, the bus slid just ever so slightly and all I could think as I looked out of the bus window at the poor saps in cars was: “HA! THESE ROADS ARE NOT MY PROBLEM...SUCKERS!!!” I have spent a lot of time on the bus in the winter and I am constantly amazed at how well the AATA drivers handle things. I don't think I have heard a single one of them swear or curse or anything. It is much more peaceful than the utterances I make when I find myself driving on snowy roads. 

I am looking forward to Curb-Your-Car month even though there won't be snowy days in May (I hope). This year, I am planning on getting my bike out of the basement and trying something new. I know that there is no way that I would ever get up early enough to ride my bike to work in the morning but AATA has lovely bike racks which will allow me to arrive at work  all fresh and non-stinky. Then in the evening after work, I can ride my bike home. AATA might end up solving my “When can I find time to exercise?” problem. The best part is that if I wimp out, I can catch the bus the rest of the way home. 

Alternative commutes are good for everyone working downtown. You can save money. You can have that second beer if you're not the one driving home. You can read more books. You don't have to drive in snow. In short, you can be richer, drunker, smarter, and more relaxed. It can't get better than that!