Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Which is Why I Own a Car

About the only place I ever lived that made sense to ride mass transit was Chicago.  Otherwise, no amount of buses, light rail, trains, or what have you was efficient enough to compensate for the fact a car could go from the driveway of your house to the driveway or parking lot of your destination.  Throw in the fact it gets gold in Minnesota and walking to and waiting at bus stops makes mass transit all that much more unappealable.

There is another reason not to ride mass transit.  It (usually) has people who are so bad at life they can't afford a car.  It isn't that hard to afford a car.  Plenty of used cars nowadays for $3,000.  Leftists and the bleeding heart types will say, "but who has $3,000 they can just drop on a car?  You hate the poor!  Why are you so mean!  Not everybody can be like you!"

I ask how CAN'T you save up a measly $3,000 for a car?  Hell, I managed to do that working for $6.90 an hour AND pay for college, living expenses, etc.  A car would be kind of your primary thing you need to get since it allows you to get to work, the grocery store and makes life a hell of a lot easier.  Sure, maybe ride the bus for a couple months to build up your reserves, but (and again, unless, say you're commuting to downtown for work and it just pays to take the bus) in the end every person should be able to get a cheap used car.  If you can't, then there's something wrong with you.


Roberto 'Heisenberg' Severino said...

Well said, sir. I don't have any use for MARTA or the transit system that exists in my county at all. A car around these parts does a ton of wonders. When I'm actually employed and making some money, then I'll save up for the cheapest used car I can find and run with it. No fancy frills or anything.

Anonymous said...

A year or two ago I saw a reporter talking to someone carting a giant TV out of Walmart during a sale. He said something like, "Yeah, things are tight right now, but if you see a good deal you have to go for it."

And that's a big part of why it's so hard for some people to save $3000.

jaericho said...

At my job, I noticed 3 young men hired that immediately upon their first paycheck from their first job out of college would buy a new car. Now, when I say 'new' I mean it's a 5 year old BMW or Audi or Mustang with 50-60k miles on it for $18-$25k.


And as soon as they can dump it and trade up, they will. And have.

I am a millennial and some of my peers have good financial sense. Most do not.

Anonymous said...

If they save for a car, how are they going to also have their $200 Air Jordans or $500 Gangsta jacket or $100/day crack habit?

Cogitans Iuvenis said...

I don't know if I would take it that far. I have a car now but looking at the cost of insurance, gas, parking and the general pain in the ass that traffic is in my part of the country, I have thought about dumping it. I'd save something on the order of a couple of hundred bucks a month on gas, insurance, and 'fees' that I incur.

I wouldn't bus it though, fortunately for me most of my items are walkable.

On a related note Captain, have you ever thought of doing an economic analysis on temporary car rentals like cars to go or zip car?

Dave said...

Imagine that we're the Marxist elite running this country, and we want to make voters more dependent on us. We already give poor people food, housing, electricity, heating oil, cell phones, and health care. Why not give them cars and gasoline too?

I suppose Marxists favor public transportation both as a source of patronage jobs and a means of controlling the hoi polloi. People who live in high-rise apartments and ride buses naturally feel less independent. Might the Marxists change their tune as our economic decline leaves an increasing number of rural and suburban voters carless?

Anonymous said...

For me, buying a car makes no sense from the perspectives of both money and time. An hour in the bus means an hour I'll spend reading a book or doing something else on my tablet or Kindle. Fifteen minutes in the car mean fifteen minutes wasted. Basically, long commutes don't matter since I'm spending the time the same way I'd spend it at home (actually, even more productively).

Of course, I live in Europe, and we have great, convenient mass transport over here. I've heard it's terrible in the US. We still have lots of smelly passengers and miscreants, but I don't mind minor discomforts and nobody's really out to randomly beat you up just because you got on the same bus as them.

Captain Capitalism said...

Cog, the idea interests me, but I haven't done a cost benefit analysis. I know, like renting sports cars on vacation, it would be cheaper if you don't use it frequently. I'm afraid I use my car enough that I would not be able to get by on the car rental. It would howevever, be beneficial for people in heavily populated areas.

Max said...

I live in Europe too and the only reason we have "cheap" mass transit is because it is highly subsidized. I ride the train for 30 mins every day and I pay 70 euro per month; that's about a hundred dollars. Now if I really had to pay the costs of my journey that would probably be around 200 or 300 eur. I think even working while riding the train doesn't make up for that.

Bike Bubba said...

I've looked a lot at transit, and it actually turns out that most of the time, driving is actually the better environmental solution, too. Since a bus is empty 75% of the time (outbound in the morning, inbound in the evening, and off peak), actual bus efficiency is about 25 passenger-miles per gallon of diesel--about what a diesel Suburban would get. Light rail is worse due to its heavy capital burden.

One excuse for not having a car in the big city, though, is the cost of parking--typically $10/day or more. So if you can halfway conveniently ride the bus, that makes sense, especially because most cities long since gave up trying to design their city centers for actually getting there conveniently.

Anonymous said...

Public transportation is comparable to a public restroom. Serviceable yet disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I just bought a "new" car for $2900... it replaces the last car I had which I bought for $4000 and drove for 7 years until I crashed it a few months ago. I do all the maintenance and as much mechanicing on my vehicles as I can, and because I got them cheap I have no fear of trying to work on them myself. You had a great article about how youtube videos can help you fix anything, it's true.

I think most people are too caught up in the status of cars and too afraid to get their hands dirty because they have no clue and never tries. It's pretty fucking easy.

Oh, and these are not beat to shit pieces of crap I bought, they're good looking, fuel efficient and I get tons of compliments because I've made them look like new.

The captain is dead right on this one.

FWG said...

Robert, MARTA makes sense at times, but it would suck to live in Atlanta without a car. I'm with you on this one Captain, there are maybe only a handful of cities in the US where it makes sense not to have a car. Chicago is one.

adiaforon said...

@Cogitans Iuvenis

In my city, I use ZipCar from time to time to do quick errands around the city and in the outlying 'burbs. ZipCar really only makes sense for short trips, not longer day trips. For that, I simply go to the airport to pick up a rental car.

Typical cost of a one-day rental with ZipCar = $89 (gas and insurance included)

Typical cost of a one-day rental = $50

You could quibble that, with gas included, the ZipCar is a better deal. But, you're limited to only 150 miles per day, then they charge you for extra mileage. Not so with the regular rental from Hertz, Avis, etc.

Anonymous said...

I don't drive Cappy,

I RUN !!! I don't want no stinking car, never again for the rest of my life.

If I want to go somewhere, I have a nice pair of iron clad boots.

Borepatch said...

In most places (in the US, anyway), once a poor person gets that $3000 car he now has a lot more job opportunities. That can lead to a different job making $1/hr more, which translates to a couple hundred bucks more a month if he's busting butt.

It's a 15 month payback. Best deal in the universe.

Anonymous said...

In NYC, that $3k car could cost that much again or more in insurance per year depending on the situation.. Plus, it's better to take mass transit and pay off debts with that $3k than to get the car, given how many folks pay monthly minima on credit cards..

Anthony said...

I work in San Francisco, and live in one of the nicer inner suburbs across the Bay. The other day, BART had a track problem, and five of the BART commuters who drove instead crashed on the Bay Bridge. Getting to work was terrible - it took an hour and 15 minutes.

Which is the minimum time it takes for me to get to work on public transit when everything works right. Public transit costs more, even with the subsidies, and the payments I'm making on a new car.

And public transit in the Bay Area is actually pretty good. If I worked in downtown SF, I'd probably take the bus, because it stops two blocks from my house, and because in downtown, parking *starts* at $20/day. (At the peak of the bubble, a parking space in a condo building near downtown sold for $75,000. And it was almost worth it.)