In terms of reliability, my car was to the point that it wasn’t if, but when it would next break down. Repair costs were more than the car was worth, so we had a decision to make. Find a replacement, or sell it and get by on the bus and other forms of transit. We chose the latter. For me the decision was a little challenging—mentally I had to release the convenience of having a car anytime I needed one. (It was our family’s second car, my my primary vehicle.)

But when I got to thinking about what that decision meant, the possibilities for getting around town without my own car, even from the suburbs, were opening up. Like me, the Downtown Journal reports that, “a growing number of people in Minneapolis are…forgoing the hassles and expenses associated with owning their own cars.”

Lets look at all of the options for getting around town.

Bus
Of course there’ s the bus, and at UST there’s even the inter-campus shuttle to get you from the St. Paul to Minneapolis campus and back. I ride the bus to work most days with my Metropass. If you’re staying downtown, there’s a free ride on Nicollet Mall and rides in the “Downtown Zone” are only 50¢.
Light rail
Light rail is expanding, with the newly opened Green Line. The eleven-mile route connects downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul by way of the University of Minnesota and University Avenue (its opening affected some bus transit near the UST Campus). The Metropass allows me access to light rail as needed.

The Southwest LRT project is slowly coming closer to reality. It is set to extend the green line all the way to Eden Prairie, by way of St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Minnetonka. More than 210,000 jobs and 60,000 people in 31,000 households are presently located within one-half mile of the proposed Southwest LRT stations.

Car Sharing
This could be a whole post in itself. From HourCar and ZipCar to Car2Go, Lyft, Uber and the standard taxi, there are increasing ways to access a car only when you need one. (Check out the Downtown Journal’s primer on the car-sharing programs.) Sometimes this too requires a mindset-shift as rental costs can add up. I paid around $30 to use an HourCar to get to my dentist. But think about the many costs associated with owning a car: the cost of the vehicle itself, gas, maintenance, insurance, parking…from this view, Car2go’s 38¢ per minute doesn’t sound too bad. (I have a Car2go card, though I haven’t used it yet.)

The other secret to getting by without a car: car pooling and getting rides from friends. It seems I’m always riding in the express lane out of downtown. Plus Metro Transit has a Guaranteed Ride Home program is you need to catch a taxi in an emergency where the bus or train won’t do.

Bicycle
There are abundant bike trails around the region. For me there’s a bike trail that leads directly downtown closer to my home than the bus stop. Minneapolis was named the most bike friendly city in the United States by Bicycling Magazine in 2010. On nice days I enjoy biking in to work and I’ve even done a daycare drop-off for my daughter by bike (and trailer).

Bicycle sharing is another great option. Nice Ride is a bike sharing program with more then 1500 bicycles throughout the Twin Cities. “Nice Ride opens up the neighborhood to students and makes things a lot more accessible, whether it’s riding to Highland Village or using the bike paths along the river. It makes it easier to be more active and encourages us to get outside more,” said professor Paul Lorah in St. Thomas Magazine. A Nice Ride membership can be cheaper than owning a car, or even buying a bike. I use Nice Ride almost weekly to get to meetings or to speed up a walk to the light-rail.

How we get to where we need to go—and how long it takes—affects our lives on a daily basis. Recently the TED Radio Hour highlighted TED speakers who imagine a future of transport that’s faster, cleaner, and just plain cooler. A more flexible mobility future is quickly arriving in the Twin Cities. A few weeks after selling our car, I’m feeling good about being a one-car family and relying on the multitude of transit options in town.