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Going carless is still a privilege in Australia

  • 28 October 2019


A year ago, I made the decision to call a wrecker and get my car crushed into a cube. It had been a long time coming. At the time of its demise, my 19 year old car had been sitting in the driveway haemorrhaging money for three years while I caught public transport, walked and caught cabs nearly everywhere. Between registration and insurance, it was approximately $2000 per year that was better spent elsewhere.

Yet while realising how much money I was wasting was the tipping point, it was not the sole factor that made my mind up. Firstly, there was the car accident. Nine years ago, I was driving back from the country one night and had my car written off by another driver who had veered on to the wrong side of the road. My injuries were thankfully minor though recurrent. Mentally however, I found it hard driving at night again, particularly when headlights would come towards me. I still do.

The next straw was going to Europe and seeing what public transport could be. My first encounter with London's Tube and how convenient, inexpensive, regular and well-planned it is was beaten only by my experiences catching public transport in Berlin. I was astounded that a city just slightly smaller than Melbourne could have such excellent and cost-effective public transport. Berlin also has reliable trams and buses. In both these cities, I found myself amused that people would run to catch a train when the next one was due in a mere three minutes.

I generally found good services in regional and rural areas too — particularly in Germany. In Copenhagen, the trains had entire sections devoted to pushbikes so their cycle-mad citizens were easily ferried around. I had a bigger language barrier in both Bangkok and Prague yet again found their public transport inexpensive and efficient.

Following each trip overseas, I'd find myself driving less when I got home. Suddenly, I had an interest in seeing exactly how many places I could get to without driving. My mindset had shifted. When I was 21 and bought my first car, it felt like freedom and the possibilities of where I could go seemed endless. At nearly 41, however, it seemed wasteful, stressful and a bit of a financial trap.

I have rarely regretted making the decision to go carless. It takes longer for me to get anywhere and I am at the whims