When you consider the average person’s carbon footprint one of the most obvious ways to become significantly more eco friendly is to consider how you travel around. Driving a car around on your own is second-only to jetting off on vacation for carbon emissions but one common complaint against using public transport is just how expensive it can be.
In many circumstances this can be true which is sad for everyone. But there are a number of ways that can make using public transport and eco-friendly transportation in general far more cost effective.
Quite often one form of public transport can be considerably cheaper than another when you actually take the time to make a comparison. Personally I quite like to take the train while I strongly dislike buses but having done some comparisons recently I discovered that at least for the longer journeys I do, quite a bit of money can be saved by taking the bus.
So take the time to investigate what options are available to you in terms of eco travel and compare them to see where money can be saved.
Whilst the idea of taking a bus or train is a nice one sometimes it simply isn’t practical and this is where lift sharing and carpooling can come in handy. Quite simply rather than a car traveling from point a to point b with only the driver in it, instead a number of people go on the journey. Doing so makes driving a car far more eco friendly as well as cutting down on the costs of fuel and insurance when they are divided up between the passengers.
In the past lift sharing was quite impractical and was reserved either for requests from friends and family or sometimes to notice boards in backpackers lodges. These days though thanks to the internet it is becoming easier and easier to connect with other car drivers in your area interested in lift sharing arrangements.
Use Loyalty Points
Large numbers of retailers, banks and credit cards now offer some form of “loyalty scheme” and some of these let you trade in your points for train or bus tickets. As a result it’s worth considering all the companies you use on a regular basis in your normal day-to-day activities to see which of them offer a loyalty program and if any of these could lead to discounted public transport opportunities for you.
Investigate Discount Schemes
Rail cards and bus discount schemes are often provided by the public transport companies themselves. For example it is possible to find discount cards for students, the retired and so on if you’re willing to hunt around. In some cases you need to pay for these discount cards but if you’re going to be using public transport on a regular basis it should still be possible to make considerable savings during the lifetime of the card.
Did you know that if you book bus or train tickets far enough in advance you can often save a ridiculous amount of money? One friend of mine saved over 70% on the standard price of a long-distance train ticket for a day out he was planning by booking it a few months in advance.
Look forward in your diary and see if there are any “set in stone” journeys you can book tickets for sooner rather than later and you may well be astonished at the money you can save as a result.
Buy A Season Ticket
In the world of grocery shopping we all understand the economies of scale. Buying a big bag of rice, for example, will work out far cheaper on a per-meal basis than buying your rice in smaller packs. And the same goes for public transport. In many cases buying a “season ticket” – paying in advance by the week, month or year can make each journey considerably cheaper than they would be if you paid for each one on the day.
One potential issue with this strategy is that while each journey may work out cheaper, paying for all those journeys at once can be something of a sore point. In these cases consider either using an ethical credit card or, even better, speak to your employer because plenty of them offer support for commuters like this. They may, for example, buy the season ticket on your behalf, and allow you to pay them back on a monthly basis out of your salary. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
Consider Your Schedule
Supply and demand is alive and well in the eco travel sector and you will find that travelling by public transport at certain times of day is far more expensive than at other times. Be willing to modify your day’s schedule where necessary to take full advantage of off-peak travel discounts offered by many operators.
Workplace Cycle Schemes
A number of forward-thinking companies now offer schemes that encourage employees to cycle to work. For example in the UK the Cycle 2 Work Scheme allows employers to buy you a bicycle for up to £1000 tax free and then to recoup their investment by deducting an greed sum from your salary each month. In this way it can be possible to gain access to a brand new bike for next to nothing thanks to your employer and the government.
Freecycle A Bike
Getting rid of an old, unwanted bike isn’t as easy as it is to throw away an old toaster or kettle. After all even for the least environmentally-conscious individuals fitting a bike into their litter bin is going to be a struggle and so it’s actually easier for most people to either sell or give away unwanted bikes rather than sending them to landfill.
Because of this it is often possible to find second-hand bikes offered for sale very cheaply in shop windows, local papers or on the various online classified advert sites like Craigslist and Gumtree.
But best of all unwanted bikes can sometimes be found for free – if you’re willing to collect it – thanks to the various freecycling websites. If the cost implications of buying a new bike have been holding back your cycling fantasies then luckily here’s one solution that will cost you only a little time.
Yes, I know walking may only be suitable for shorter distances. And in nice weather. But walking is always free and is great for your health. Ask yourself if you could reduce your carbon footprint by walking to your kids to school, or popping into the library or local shop on foot rather than using wheels. I work a 60+ hour week at present and I also walk further than anyone else I know each week so it’s certainly possible if you put your mind to it.
Any tips or ideas we’ve missed out here? Have you had success with any of the strategies outlined in this article? Please leave a comment with your own experiences – we’d love to hear from you.