Our cars have been the preferred mode of transportation for well over a century. Cars provide convenient personal transportation and give the owner of the car great independence. Our love of cars has grown over the years, but unfortunately problems have grown too. Expensive repairs, congestion on our highways, loss of urban space, air pollution causing public health problems and carbon emission adding to the trend of global warming are all consequences of excessive use of the automobile. In addition, we face record high gasoline prices with no end in sight.
The following are 10 alternatives to driving your car. Some have been with us longer than the car itself and others are new technologies.
Walking has been around forever, but became looked down upon with the advent of the car. For all the reasons above walking is seeing resurgence. Not only does walking help the environment, but much of today’s society struggles with obesity and an alternate form of transportation that helps us drop pounds is a welcome one.
Biking is much quicker than walking and can reach further distances. Daily commutes to work of up to five miles are reasonable if the rider is up to it athletically. Bikes are much cheaper to buy and maintain than cars. The problem is sharing the roads with the cars we are trying to avoid using can be dangerous.
People living in metropolitan often areas find that walking, biking or taking the car is impractical. Compared to driving alone, public transportation like buses can use less fuel per passenger and reduce the amount of traffic congestion. Many areas have lanes dedicated to buses or high occupancy vehicles, which might make taking a bus faster than driving.
7: Mass Transit
If you live in or around an urban area, you may have access to a mass transit rail system, such as a subway or metro train system. Although bus routes usually have more stops and accessibility, mass transit rail systems do not have to deal with traffic congestion from the road, and can therefore be faster than the bus.
Carpooling is popular among the more social people in the office. Carpooling saves gas and emissions, but also gives extra time for co-workers to chat amongst themselves. Maybe even about work resulting in a more productive day.
5: Car Sharing
If you only need a car occasionally and are flexible, you can avoid the hefty costs of buying and maintaining a vehicle with a process known as car sharing. Zipcar and Flexcar are both popular car sharing companies that allow you to reserve a vehicle and borrow it. The system is perfect for short term sharing, because fees can be on an hourly or daily basis.
4: Alternative Fuel Cars
Alternative fuels give an opportunity to keep the convenience of using our personal car and run a fuel other than gasoline. Compressed natural gas is one alternative fuel that produces less pollution and greenhouse gases. Renewable fuels include ethanol, which is derived from plant materials, and biodiesel, which is made from vegetable oils and animal fats. Propane burns cleanly and is available widely in the United States, helping the U.S. become energy independent.
3: Electric Cars
No more trips to the gas station, just stick the plug into the outlet in your car while it is parked in your garage. Quiet while in motion, electric vehicles seem like the perfect alternative to the gas powered cars. Unfortunately, due to battery storage miles between charges are limited and the electricity used often comes from coal burning power plants so it is questionable if electric vehicles prevent damage to the environment.
2: Hybrid Cars
Until technology improves on electric cars a great alternative in the mean time is hybrid cars. A hybrid vehicle has a gasoline engine, an electric motor and batteries for storing power. Combining electric and gas, hybrids get the best of both worlds. Engines running on gas are inefficient at low speeds, so the electric motor can take over at those times. When more power is needed the gas engines take over. If you consider a hybrid versus an all gas car make sure you do the math on how many miles it takes to offset the more expensive price tag.
Train travel in Europe is very popular and is a great alternative to cars. Trains carry many more people than buses which make train travel a very efficient form of transportation. In the United States rail freight companies own the railways themselves. Freight trains get priority over passenger trains often resulting in long delays making train travel less popular in the United States.
Soon that will not be true for rail travel between Southern California and Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc. (Vegas X Train) will be providing luxury travel between the two destinations. The Vegas X Train will have priority over freight trains per an existing agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad. The Vegas X Train will stay on schedule and will be the best alternative to driving between Southern California and back again. The Vegas X Train will reduce carbon emissions and will make the journey between Southern California and Las Vegas safer for the travelers on their way to the Entertainment Capital of the World.