Point/Counterpoint: Driving vs. transit

What's the superior way to get to campus?

Point: Transit is best!

I often hear students complaining about public transit in Edmonton. That’s understandable: waiting in the cold at the bus stop sucks and it takes a while to get around. However, I’m a fan of transit in general, and I think that although Edmonton’s system could use some improvements, it’s still pretty awesome. 

It’s true that standing at the bus stop in -20 degree-weather is one of the worst things about winter. However, bus-tracking apps are reliable these days, and if you time it right, you can get to the bus stop within a minute or two of the bus arriving. Walking to the bus stop in the cold can also be a pain, but it’s also a great way to get in some steps during an otherwise sedentary day, at least for me. 

It’s also true that riding the bus is often slower than driving. Still, I find that I enjoy my time on the bus more than my time driving because it’s a great time to catch up on reading. Bring a book or watch Netflix and your commute becomes much more enjoyable. More broadly, you can consider your participation in the transit system as a contribution to the public good: not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, but it’s a wonderful act of social participation, seeing as you’re not isolated in your little vehicular bubble.  

Finally, the bus is ‘free’ for students, seeing as it’s included in tuition. The U-Pass costs $153.00 per semester this year, which comes out to $306.00 in transit costs for Fall and Winter terms. Compare that to roughly $150 a month for car insurance plus $100 a month for gas (those are pretty conservative estimates), that comes out to around $2000 for the same time period. That figure doesn’t account for the actual cost of a vehicle, maintenance, or any tickets and other costs associated with driving. That $1694.00 difference is equivalent to roughly 113 hours of work at minimum wage, and over two 14-week semesters, that’s 4 hours a week. You could consider riding transit as an alternative to working some boring job. Instead of selling jeans at Southgate, you can be living it up on the LRT! On top of all of that, you don’t have to worry about road conditions. Riding the bus or LRT is a low-cost, low-stress option.

If you can find a way to enjoy your time on transit, I strongly believe that it’s an environmentally conscious way to engage with the city that will save you lots of money every year. Ride the bus, folks!

Alexander Lema

Counterpoint: Drive in comfort and style

Let me elucidate in 5 words why driving is superior to public transport.  Convenience, warmth, safety, reliability, comfort. I rest my case. 

The first point: convenience. Like life, transport is best when it can be done on your schedule. If you drive, you have to spend excessive amounts of your life freezing at a bus stop waiting for the bus that was supposed to be there 15 minutes ago. When you drive, the transport schedule is your schedule. 

Secondly, safety. If you are in a car, or preferably a Dodge Ram pick-up truck, you don’t have to worry about getting stabbed on the bus, or on being heckled or mugged by strangers on the LRT. Yeah, you might get in a car accident when driving, but that’s much more on you than on the bus driver

Thirdly, reliability. With vehicles it can be hit or miss, but public transit can be counted on to be reliably shit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s day or night, bus or LRT, the public transit system guarantees a bad experience. Do you want to squished into train cars like Tetris pieces? How about falling over onto the bus floor after a sudden stop?

Fourthly, comfort. Yes it’s a bit cold at first when you wait for your vehicle to warm up in the winter, but a remote starter can mitigate that. You can’t remote start your jacket while you’re waiting in -30 degree-weather for the bus that’s supposed to come in 5 minutes ago. You can spend your morning commute sitting on heated leather seats, listening to the Andrew Klavan Podcast through the stereo, you can make a detour to go and get some hot coffee. That’s the morning commute for car owners. If you want to take public transit, you can enjoy running on icy surfaces  and standing outside to get on the bus in time. From there, you can sit on chairs designed to give you scoliosis, and get driven, while listening to your music through headphones, to the nearest train station, where you can run to catch a departing train and leap into a crowd of people just as the doors close. Then you get to stand packed in tight next to that guy with some unknown illness , just to be released onto the next platform and walk 20 minutes to your class that started 2 minutes ago. Your pick.

Lastly, warmth. Touched on earlier, but I despise the cold. With a burning passion. Not burning enough to deter frostbite, but burning enough to motivate me to walk quickly. With a vehicle, you get to control the temperature and minimise the time you spend outdoors. On public transit, you can mitigate by staying inside the LRT stations, but that’s a band-aid over an arterial bleed: it’s just not going to cut it.

Be safe, be smart, be comfortable. Drive a vehicle. 

Samuel Hughes

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