Cars V Trains: Since when did parking cost a million pounds?

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Cars are getting frightfully expensive. I realised this, this afternoon when simply trying to park in Coventry city centre for a few hours. Before I tell you (and you scroll down), guess how much they make you pay to park in a car park with dirty water dripping from the ring-road above and tarmac that hasn’t so much be laid as ploughed. Go on, 4 hours in Coventry, guess. £2.50? £3.00 perhaps? Wrong.

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That’s right, 5 pounds. F-I-V-E whole pounds. Five hundred pennies. The best part of an hour’s work at minimum wage. Just to park in a car park which isn’t really in the city centre, isn’t manned or guarded, or safe, or glamorous. At best, you could say it’s been neglected. I felt bad leaving Rockadaisy’ there.

Oh wait, yes Rockadaisy’ (or for short, Roxy’). Allow me to introduce you to my pride and joy, the car I spent 3 years searching for: P328 TVT, The Calibra. Yes I know, it’s only a Calibra, but you don’t see many of these about these days and it took a very long time to find the right one. I love that old car; it’s simple, honest, fun, makes people smile and is cheap(er). VX02 is a great car, but my god it’s expensive to run. The Calibra, although being 5 years senior to the Astra and being based on a design from the mid-1980’s is cheaper than the car that replaced it.

It’s still a considerable amount of money though, as all cars are. You’ve got to buy the thing for a start, then there’s the insurance and tax for it. In my case, the insurance was more than the car – £800 for a ton and a bit of metal and leather, £950 for a piece of paper to use it on the road. Oh, no, wait, sorry, almost forgot, £215 for road tax. So adding up, that’s two grand before a wheel has even turned a mile on the great British roads. Then you’ve got petrol (enough has been said already on petrol prices, you don’t need me to rant about that), tyres, servicing, oil, and cleaning stuff to keep it clean. That’s a considerable wedge of cash when you think about, especially when you leave it one of the dodgiest car parks in the country. Cars, whichever way you cut it, are mightily expensive, especially when they go wrong.

That EGR valve which stopped VX02 running properly (thinking about it, that might have been why I ran out of fuel with miles left on therange the other week…), well that’s a £200 part from Vauxhall. Ebay saves you some cash on that, but not much. £135, at best. Windscreen wiper motors – 70 quid a go. I brought two hub nuts today for the Calibra, two simple nuts – £10. And having them fitted costs even more – when I was buying all these parts, I overheard a guy being quoted over £1500 for some work on his Vectra.

And what do you get for all this cash in end? A metal box which needs constant attention, that’s slowly rotting away, burning up the planets natural resources and polluting what’s left. A huge queue of people, all sat in their little boxes, going nowhere, should you venture out during rush hour. Idiots, using their little boxes to bully their way in front of you during heavy traffic. A target for thieves. A mode of transport that is expensive to run, expensive to own and in the end needs replacing. What’s the point?

Well, let me quote an old video game: ‘A wheel is forever, a car is infinity times four.’ I like that saying, even if it is taken from a video game. Cars are inspiration, freedom, an achievement, something to work for, a status symbol, a shopping trolley, a safety cell, a place to sing, to laugh, to smile. Cars are the one mode of transport that sets you free. You can carry all of your things, all of your friends and family, to wherever you want, whenever you want, at what temperature, speed, listening to what you want at what volume you want without anyone being able to stop you. It’s little wonder they’re so popular. Be honest now, hasn’t a car somehow brought you to read this?

Although there are many benefits to the car, two remain prominent to me from today; convenience and speed. I had to go and get parts, take my phone in for repair, carry numerous tools, go to university and then down to High Wycombe to see Sam, picking up some shopping to en-route. On public transport, I’d have had to leave this morning at 8am and wouldn’t have made it to my final destination till way after 10pm, completely exhausted from carrying everything. With the car I was able to take everything with me and get to all these places far quicker and easier than I would on public transport.

There was a downfall however. The flexibility meant I didn’t really pay attention to the clock today and thus I was running late for most of the day. And because I didn’t have to think about what I could and couldn’t carry, I ended up forgetting various things and going back for them.

I will say this though; cars are fantastic things if you like singing. Two songs came on in the car today that had me at the top of my lungs – the first is at the start of this post (hopefully you pressed play before you started reading), the second is below. If you’re reading this on the train, I don’t recommend singing along; you’ll attract many looks and annoy the people around you. If you’ve read this at home, get these songs in your car and listen to them next time you’re out – I guarantee you’ll have a little sing-a-long, hopefully in the privacy of a car and not on the train… 😉

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