A year ago, I decided to switch from purchasing single ride fares to buying an AC Transit 31 day bus pass every month. I have to admit that I went back and forth for months before doing so, trying to figure out what made the most sense financially. I figured out how many rides I’d have to take for the value of the 31 day pass to kick in (40) and tried to figure out how often I rode the bus every month, which varies greatly. Ultimately, I decided to go for it, even though I didn’t imagine it would save me more than $5 or maybe $10 per month.
Now, I’m sure it usually saves me more than that, but the savings have turned out to be not the only (or primary) benefit of having a 31 day bus pass. Having the pass has instilled me with a sort of transit freedom that I hadn’t felt since giving up my car because I no longer have to calculate the cost of individual bus trips.
In the past, for example, I might try to do my grocery shopping by walking. This would often create more trouble then it was worth because I could only buy a limited amount of groceries, and it was mostly because I didn’t want to pay $1.75 for the return bus trip, just to ride 10 blocks. Now, I wouldn’t think twice and hop on the bus with my groceries.
This freedom goes far beyond regular errands though. Sometimes I’m out with friends and someone offers me a ride home, but I want to stay out a bit later. In the past, I might have taken the ride, but now I know I can stay out as long as I wish and take the bus home. Or a few weeks ago, I was looking for a couple particular clothing items so I walked down to check out a few stores near Rockridge BART, but found nothing. Before having the 31 day pass, I probably would have just walked home, but instead, I hopped on the 51 down to Berkeley and was able to find one of the items I was looking for. Then I hopped on the 51 back home. And transferring buses is now something I don’t think twice about – I don’t have to worry how much time lapses in between and there’s no additional cost to me.
Having a monthly bus pass has been a huge help in taking the Car-Free Challenge! I honestly don’t think I could make it through this month without it.
A 31 day pass is probably not for everyone, especially for those who walk, bike, or BART to work, but if you’re a frequent bus rider, it’s worth looking into. And now is the perfect time to do it, since it currently costs $70 but will go up to $80 on July 1 (when all fares will increase). So consider taking the plunge, and join me in enjoying the freedom of a 31 day bus pass.