Is the future without a car?
- Ditching your car can easily save you thousands of dollars each year in gas, maintenance and insurance costs.
- The most passable cities are usually those with extensive public transport systems that help you avoid the need for cars.
- Extensive use of cycle paths also contributes to increasing car-free life in many of these cities.
Cars are a pain. You have to wash them, feed them, repair them, store them, insure them – and it all costs money. Lots of money. And this is after you threw down a small fortune just to get one in the first place.
But what if I could live a life without a car? For many of us, this is simply not practical. Many modern cities and suburbs are literally designed around cars. However, there are still a number of places where not only is it possible to be car-free, but even preferable.
Living without a car tends to mean one of two things: a really tiny city or a really big one. To get an idea of which cities make a car-free life more practical, we looked for places with the best public transport systems. Here’s what we found:
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The best cities for car-free travel in the United States
The best public transportation in the United States is found in its larger cities, especially those that precede the automobile. They tend to rely on a mix of subways and buses, with some also boasting less common means of transportation like trams and ferries.
- New York, New York: New York’s infamous subway system is the largest in the United States, with over 470 stations. Combined with the city bus system (and numerous taxi services), you can get almost anywhere, which is why more than half of the city’s households are car-free.
- Boston, MA: Known locally as the T, the Boston MBTA is one of the simplest, but still effective systems, and uses four color-coded rail lines, as well as a number of buses and trams. Boston is also safe enough for walkers, with fewer than a dozen pedestrians dead each year.
- San Francisco, California: While we’ve probably all seen the city’s famous cable cars depicted in film and television, San Francisco’s massive public transit system also includes the subway, buses, and trams. This system is an important part of why, despite its many hills, San Francisco is also ranked as the most walkable city in the country.
- Portland, OR: Portland has a wide range of public transportation options, including an extensive bus network, light rail, commuter rail, and the Portland Streetcar system. It is also eminently passable by bicycle; the city has over 385 miles of bike paths and the highest percentage of bicycle commuters in the country.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Getting around Philly without a car isn’t difficult thanks in large part to its trains, subways, buses, and trams covering 52 square miles. Once you get off the transport, you are also in one of the top five most walkable cities in the United States
- Washington DC: The country’s capital is also one of the most walkable, thanks in large part to its busy public transit system. The subway offers 25 routes that take countless tourists around the city every year, also bringing thousands of commuters every day from nearby Virginia and Maryland.
- Seattle, WA: Despite being surrounded by multiple waterways, it’s easy to be car-free in Seattle. Not only do you have 22 public transit routes, including buses, trams, and light rail, but you also have Seattle’s iconic ferries to go coast-to-coast.
- Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis has all the public transportation options you could want, with trams, buses, and commuter trains covering 56 square miles. In addition, Minneapolis is also considered to be one of the most cycling cities in the United States, with over 200 trails and bike paths.
- Jersey City, New Jersey: More than half of Jersey City residents use public transportation, particularly those commuting to nearby New York City. They can take advantage of an extensive rail system and bus lines, as well as manage many of their daily activities entirely on foot.
- Chicago, IL: Chicago’s extensive public transit system covers a huge amount of land, serving 35 suburbs via train and bus. It also boasts more than 200 miles of bike paths and 13,000 bike racks around the city.
How much can you save without a car?
Looking at the cities on this list, you may be questioning the cost of living without a car. After all, these are some of the most expensive places to live in the country. But if you subtract the cost of ownership of the car, as much as you can Save living in one of these cities?
According to AAA, that number is over $ 10,000. His data shows that the average cost of owning and operating a new car is $ 10,728 per year. And this is just the average; a lot of people pay a lot, a lot more.
Even if you exclude car payments – which is not a small amount, with the typical new car running you $ 30,000 or more – simply insuring your car can cost thousands. In fact, drivers pay an average of $ 2,875 per year for auto insurance, and that cost goes up if you actually have to file a claim.
Then there is the gas and the inevitable expensive repairs. All in all, moving to a more expensive city where you don’t need a car could end up in ruin when it comes to your finances.