How Taking Transit Makes You Richer and Fitter

Jeff Graham

“Better you than me,” says my neighbour Bob as I climb into the passenger seat of his new luxury sedan out of the mind-numbingly cold weather. I feel the heat pleasantly wash over my face, and I close my eyes briefly as I rub my hands slowly along the sides of the new leather seats. I savour every brief moment because today is a good day: I am getting a ride to the bus stop from my neighbour.

“Do you do that walk every day?” He asks, with a look of bewilderment. “Yes” I reply, trying to force a smile out of my half-frozen face. “You walk all the way to that bus stop, every day, in this weather?” I nod, and Bob shakes his head.

“Is that your stop there?” He asks. I tell him it is, and he repeats himself, “better you than me!”

Better me than you? I’m Not So Sure About That

As I’m thrust back out into the cold, I briefly think about how nice it would be to whisk myself along to work in a new luxury sedan. I then think about all the realities of putting a commuter vehicle on the road and I think to myself, “actually Bob, it’s better you than me.”

Taking Transit Was Saving Me About $730 a Month

According to the Canadian Automobile Association, the average cost of car ownership is over $10,000 CAD annually and the American Automobile Associationreports almost $9,000 USD for a mid-sized sedan. Those figures factor in everything from financing costs, depreciation, license, registration, maintenance and fuel.

For a single-income family like mine, putting a commuter vehicle on the road would be the road to total financial ruin. Trying to keep our 10-year-old mini-van from falling apart is enough, thanks.

In 2013 I spent a paltry average of $70 per-month for the bus - a far cry from the $800 per-month price-tag of another car (a savings of $730 a month). Yes, I telecommuted some days, there were vacations, and rides from colleagues, but even if I had paid the $122 per-month fee for a bus pass, it wasn’t even close. In fact, what I paid in bus fare would barely have been enough for winter tires.

Taking Transit Can be Seriously Good For Your Health

Last summer I started wearing a Nike FuelBand, and I was shocked at how much more activity I got on days when I took the bus. Sure, there was the extra 40 minutes I spent walking to and from bus stops, but it was only part of the picture. My daily readouts were showing that I was not only more active when I walked to the stops, but also during the day! What was going on?

After a bit of self-observation, I came to the conclusion that I was more active during bus days because I was usually dressed appropriately to go outside. I would wear a dri-fit golf shirt during hot days, bring an umbrella when it looked like it might rain, and bring my mittens when it was cold. This made me prepared for walking meetings, sojourns to the local coffee shops, and lunch-hour strolls.

In addition to increased activity, a great benefit of transit is the option to stand! The saying sitting is the new smoking is apt, and if you’re driving a car, your only option is to sit.

Taking Transit Can Make You A Smarter and Better Employee

Many people spend part of their transit commute planning for their day, reading a good book, or developing their mind by doing a Sudoku or Crossword puzzle. In my experience, being confined to a transit schedule also caused me to highly consistent with my arrival time in the morning - in fact, I took great pride in being consistently to work at 8:15 and in having a reputation as the one who put the coffee on.

Taking Transit Can Enrich Your Family Life Too

On the ride home, particularly at the end of the journey, I usually focussed on leaving work at work. Being on the bus gave me a chance to reflect on my day, jot down any last-minute notes or ideas, and be fully present for family life when I got home...

So with all that, are you ready to become richer and fitter?