The Money Pie Deconstructed: Transportation

You know how sometimes you are running along, or driving, or walking and you are kind of letting your mind wander and all of a sudden something pops in there? I don't know about you, but this happens to me a lot when I am running and I sometimes have to stop and jot down a quick note on my phone or I will forget what my "brilliant" idea was. So the other day, I was running and it came to me that it would be fun to talk about each category of my money pie, not necessarily about the financial aspect of the category, although that may be part of it, but just random thoughts, or as Mike Meyers would say on Coffee Talk, "I will give you a topic. Talk amongst yourselves." 

I am going to do this in no particular order, because the topic that came to mind the other day was car related. Therefore transportation is the first category! 

What is your car situation? I did not have a car for about 16 years, as I was either traveling around the world, traveling for work, or living in San Francisco/Oakland, where you can get around without one pretty easily. When needed, I would rent one, but for a long time, that was not very often. I bought my car in 2016; it is a 2016 Hyundai Accent. It was used with about 10,000 miles on it and I bought it because I wanted a cheap car with good gas mileage. It is named The Red Rocket. 

What is the parking like in your area? Sometimes it is hard to park in San Francisco. If you live in a neighborhood, you can apply for a sticker, which allows you to park longer than the usual one or two hour limit. Otherwise, there is also street cleaning on most streets either once per week or once every other week, so you also often have to move your car every week. A friend of mine used to schedule his grocery shopping for 6 am every Wednesday so he could be back in time to follow the 7 am street cleaner down the street and get his parking spot back. It is also sometimes hard to find a spot and I remember driving around for 45 minutes once and almost getting into a fight over the one spot I finally snagged. 

This is what parking sometimes looks like. 

If you are in the financial district, which is where my office is, most streets are metered, and some even go from 7 am to 6 pm or even 10 pm in certain cases. These cost about $2.00/hour but can go as high as $6.00/hour. Parking garages cost around $25.00/day.  In Oakland, it depends, but usually it is not hard to find parking. My street has street sweeping every other week. I have forgotten to move my car, and the ticket was about $80.00. That is an expensive mistake! You're welcome Oakland. 

Do you have to pay tolls? We have tolls on our bridges; I have to go over the Bay Bridge to get to San Francisco, which is a $7.00 toll. The others are the Richmond Bridge, which is also $7.00 and the Golden Gate Bridge, which recently went to $8.00 if you have a FasTrak and $9.00 if you just go right through. The Golden Gate and Bay Bridge do not accept cash anymore (this was on the way out but was sped up due to COVID). 

What is your commute like? I live in Oakland and work in San Francisco. It is about 13 miles between my house and the office. There is a bridge between the two and there are not pedestrian walkways on this bridge. When I used to go to work later, I utilized the casual carpool. I wrote a post about that here. Then I started working earlier and I rode my bike to the BART train station each day. This took about ten minutes to ride the bike and 20 minutes to ride the train. Once I arrived in the city, the train station was about a five minute walk from my office. In 2018 they started doing maintenance on the train (it goes under the bay in a tunnel, which needed repairs) each morning, so they subbed out the early trains with a bus. At this point, I sometimes drove to the BART station, which took about seven minutes, where I would take the bus into the city, which took about 20 minutes. Once I arrived in the city, the bus station was also about a five minute walk to my office. 

Then....COVID hit, people stopped going to work, train schedules got cut drastically and people were afraid to take public transportation. I have continued going into the office the whole time and have been driving in each morning ever since. Let me tell you, at first, it was like buttah! The 13 mile drive took me about 15 minutes, and there were no cars on the road. As people started coming back, it took a little longer, but I go in around 5:00 am, so even on a heavy day, it is more like 20-25 minutes. As mentioned above, this does entail a toll charge and parking, but my work was paying for the parking due to the pandemic. Starting April 1st, they will no longer pay for parking. 

So...what will I do then? That is a great question. I will go back to taking public transportation. Unfortunately, they have not fully reinstated all of the buses and trains due to light ridership in the past two years, so the times are more limited. I will have to go in earlier than I need to or later that I want to, so earlier it is! At first, I will once again drive to the BART station and take the bus in. I may eventually transition back to the bike/BART commute after I get the hang of the scheduling. 

What is in your trunk? My coworker once had to put something in my trunk and when I opened it he gasped. I assumed he was disgusted by how much stuff I had in there, but actually he thought it was really tidy. I thought it would be fun to talk about what is in my trunk. My favorite thing, and one I have used more than once is a 3-in-1 car jumper, battery, and air compressor. Once charged up, it can be used to charge appliances (it has USB ports and a 110 volt outlet), jump your car or pump up tires. It also have a utility/flashlight function. I could write a whole post about this tool alone. It is very cool.

I also have a trunk organizer, which is probably why my friend thinks I am organized. In it is a first aid kit, 2 gallons of water, a towel, a blanket, an umbrella, more jumper cables (belt and suspenders!), dominoes & a deck of cards (you never know...), and an extra pair of running shoes. I also have a "running box" which includes an extra set of running clothes, socks, a hat, a sweatshirt, flip flops, a headlamp, a flashlight, a few snacks, a change of clothes for afterward and baby wipes. I guess if I were stranded, I could survive for at least eight days by utilizing the things in my trunk (if I drank one liter of water a day).

Your turn! Answer one or all of the following: What is your car situation? What is the parking like in your area? Do you have to pay tolls? What is your commute like? What is in your trunk?

1 comment:

  1. I have been in your car quite a bit and have witnessed your incredible parking skills - especially on hills!!

    We have 2 cars which is the norm in this area of the country. We could probably be a one-car family but it's not worth the hassle for us as there are times when Phil needs to go places on the weekend, like to his mom's house, and it's nice ideal to strand me without a car. So 2 cars it is! Both are paid off. Our older car is a 2013 Corolla - Phil got it new and it has something like 20k miles on it - so clearly it doesn't get used a ton. Our newer car is a 2016 Camry and it has 25k miles on it. So that goes to show how little we drive. We are trying to buy a Rav4 prime which is a hybrid that runs on a battery for trips under 50 miles or something like that - which is probably 90% of our driving.

    Pre-covid, we had a very complicated commute process. Phil would drop me at a bus stop on his way to dropping Paul off at daycare. I would take the bus to work, he's take Paul to school, drive to a bus stop and then take a bus to work. After work, we'd do the opposite. Phil would take the bus home and walk about 5-10 minutes to our house, I'd take the bus to the car, drive to the daycare, pick up the boys, and drive home. Post-covid, I work in the office 3 days/week, so Phil and I carpool. He is almost always home on Fridays, too, and probably going in more often than not on Mondays. The buses that served our area and the daycare area now longer run because of low ridership. But it doesn't really make sense for us to ride the bus anymore. And I don't think we could do that complicated system of dropping off and catching a bus. We had NO margin in our schedule when we did that, and now we definitely need more margin as getting Paul out the door is harder at 4 than it was when he was 2 and under, and dropping 2 kids off is more time consuming. We have a carpool parking pass for $100 which is steal for you v $25/day! If we pay/day, it's $9. The parking pass would be more expense if we weren't carpooling, though.

    For parking, we have no complications. We have a 2-stall garage, which was a 'must have' item for us because of our winters/snow situation. We park the car we take to daycare on the street during the nicer months of the year. They sweep our street maybe 2-3 times/year? Every other week is nuts! What is the reason for that? Litter? Leaves falling? We have snow emergencies which are declared when we get enough snow to warrant it - you can't park on either side of snow emergency routes on day 1, then can't park on the even # side of the road the next day, and odd # side on the following day. We are signed up to get text notifications about snow emergency days but it's pretty much a non-issue for us since we rarely park on the street and especially not on snowy days!

    And we have very little in our trunk! Jumper cables, a stroller in one of the cars, reusable grocery bags that Phil uses when stopping at Aldi, and that's about it!


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!