Green alternative to driving saves money

July 3, 2008 4:06:40 PM PDT
In an effort to avoid spending hundreds of dollars a week on gas, many commuters are looking for new ways to get to work.The normal morning routine of cranking the engine and driving to work is becoming an expensive one.

More people are turning to buses. They are not just saving on gas, but letting someone else battle the hustle and bustle of rush hour traffic.

But Michael Farrel has taken it up a notch. He has ditched his car all together, preferring to commute on two wheels!

"You save money you get healthier," he said.

Farrel bikes five miles to the METRO Park and Ride on Highway 290 and West Road. Then he takes his bike on the bus, storing it in the luggage compartment, and commutes into downtown.

Once he's there, he gets his bike and rides the rest of the way to work.

"Riding to work gives you an extra 30 minute workout in the morning and evening," Farrel said.

When Farrel started his bus-bike commute last year, gas really wasn't the driving factor. He was getting in extra training for the MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. But then he started noticing the savings. With his company bus vouchers, his commute is free!

"I save time by getting my workout in the morning and save money in gas and wear and tear on my car," Farrel said.

Farrel is not alone. This fall, all 800 local METRO buses were fitted with bike racks. Since then, the boardings have continued to increase.

"If you want to compare, April had about 1,500 boardings. May had 2,500 boardings, and now in June we're seeing over 3,600 boardings," METRO representative Rosio Torres said.

By September, METRO says, bike racks will be installed on all of its commuter buses as well.

"I always worry about getting hit by a car," Farrel said.

Farrel hopes the City of Houston will consider adding bike lanes. He wears brightly colored clothes and a helmet, but during rush hour when everyone's in a hurry, anything can happen.

METRO says bikes are also allowed on METRO rail lines during off-peak hours.

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