Swapping car for bus to save money - what's it like with small children?

(9 Posts)
zirca Mon 31-Mar-14 19:09:06

This is something we're considering. In a year or so I will have two children under 3, and DH's transport will probably have died an honorable death of old age. That will leave us with one reliable car. We could buy another, or DH could use the car for work during the week and I could get a bus pass. The financial savings would be considerable if I took the bus - we worked out a saving of £1500 a year while the children are under 5 years old and travel for free. We live in a large town with a multitude of buses, and everywhere I go is near a bus stop.

So - logically, and financially, it seems the thing to do. We could save some of that money towards a better car for when the children are older, and put the rest towards something sensible (like doing up the house we will need to purchase this year!). What is it really like though, using a bus with young children? I think I'd wait until DC2 was 3 months old before giving up the car (and I think DH's transport will last until then, hopefully), but I'd initially have a baby and a 2 year old. Will it be hell?

iamnotanugget Mon 31-Mar-14 19:53:08

Try it and see how you go. We've always had one car for dh for work and I've used the bus with 2 dc. Older one was 3.3 when I had a newborn so I've only ever had oneIin a buggy.

Pros: 'pay as you go' so no worrying about tax, insurance etc, can be cheaper, useful for dc to learn about public transport.

Cons: rarely you can't get on as bus has already filled buggy quota, journeys take longer, you must be more time conscious so you don't miss the bus.

If you have very frequent buses then it's fine but I wouldn't want to be stuck at a bus stop in the rain for half an hour. 95% of the time I'm fine with the situation but occasionally I do wish I had a car.

Cindy34 Mon 31-Mar-14 19:59:53

Give it a go. Next time you need to go into town, take the bus.
Try to find out online what the ticket cost is likely to be, so you can have the right money available.

I tend to only use bus for Park&Ride. That I find relatively painless with young children, as it is short and the busses are very frequent.

Buggy can be an issue, sometimes limited space. Was easier once youngest child walked. The children love going on top deck but the stairs are a pain as steep. It may vary between bus designs. Single deck busses are great as no arguments then about going upstairs.

zirca Tue 01-Apr-14 08:09:32

Thanks for the replies smile. DS is walking well already and doesn't use a buggy at 18 months, so I'm only envisaging having our folding buggy for DC2 (is suitable from birth), and DS (probably on reins so I don't have to worry about him letting go of my hand at crucial moments!). You can buy a yearly bus pass in our area, unlimited travel, for about £500. Everywhere I go is close enough that I could walk if I had to, but it'd be time consuming, and then I probably would need a double buggy. Buses are every 10 min or so.

QuiteQuietly Tue 01-Apr-14 10:43:15

I had to stop driving when pregnant with DS2, and have only recently been allowed to drive again and to be honest I'm probably going to stick with the public transport (with 3 DC).

I tried not to use a buggy, or to take an umbrella fold up style one so I did't have to fuss about the buggy on the bus. I used a sling for youngest for as long as possible, then a hip seat. I did take the buggy when out all day though. Reins are useful, but I found the children soon learnt the rules and the bus is much more exciting than being strapped in a car seat. I prefer public transport as I can chat/read/play I spy with the children instead of trying to concentrate on driving while they raise hell in the back, plus I don't have to fuss with change for parking/where to park/do I have petrol, which has freed up an immense chunk of brain space. The kids get to know bus regulars, especially old people (which I encourage as grandparents are far away, the old people are a big chunk of society that are easy to miss out on when at (pre)school. I reward the best behaved child with ringing-the-bell privileges. I get the occassional taxi (when running late for appointments, when the rain is ridiculous, when the world is out to get me), and we are still quids in over owning a second car.

With your regular bus service, I would definitely ditch the second car. If it's double-decker, I full-heartedly recommend telling the kids there are no bells if you sit upstairs. DS1 has recently discovered the truth and is rather amused.

Anilec Tue 01-Apr-14 11:38:10

We�ve been car-free for a year now with a four year old and a soon to be two year old and have found it to be mostly fine. Saves SO much money when you consider all the extra expenses of running a car, not just the fuel. We are also lucky enough to live on a very good bus route (buses every 15 mins during the day) and for longer trips, I�ve also taken the boys on the train which they love. Eldest one has a scooter and we have a small buggy.

Occasionally it would be nice to have the flexibility of a car. We had a family trip out on Mother�s Day and that involved a bus ride to the train station, two short train journeys and a ten minute walk the other end. But it was a nice day and really, it was fine. Possibly less stressful than negotiating traffic and trying to find a parking space.

Actually I must confess that we have a bit of an informal �car share� with our next door neighbour which also comes in handy if we need to get a big shop or do a special trip. But you can also hire cars as well if you need them � still works out miles cheaper than running one or two cars.

pancakesfortea Tue 01-Apr-14 22:36:18

It's really fine. Lots of us do it! I think its easier for me.because we have never had a car, so I don't miss what I've never had.

The hardest thing for me is that friends that used to live near me (on all the bus routes etc) have since moved to hard to get to places. So visiting them is a pain. Otherwise its just no bother and I honestly think sleep deprived mothers of young children should have a nice relax on the bus and avoid driving wherever possible. My driving friends always seem so stressed about parking, other drivers, MOT etc. At least if the bus breaks down I'm not responsible for fixing it!

sheppysheep Wed 02-Apr-14 12:47:38

We are car free, which isn't unusual in London. I'd recommend making sure your buggy is always foldable (not loading it up with shopping/random toys!) then you're not limited by the buggy space. It is a lovely feeling leaving behind the frustrated mums with huge overfilled shopping baskets who can't get on the bus, by folding up your little buggy and sitting back to relax on the journey. Bus journeys are a great opportunity to catch up on emails, MN and books on your kindle app (I'd find anything bigger than a smartphone too big though, especially when you have to stand). Bus journeys are slower than using a car here, and occasionally there are things like unexpected breakdowns/buses terminating ahead of their stop. I'd budget for occasional taxis for when you just can't face the extra journey time/hassle, or if you need to carry lots back.

MarvellousMabel Wed 02-Apr-14 22:11:55

Gah - this is one of those things I fantasise about

* when I'm not in a rush
* when it's sunny
* when I don't have to be anywhere like work hmm
* when everyone is behaving

Not happening here any time soon I think!

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