I'm old enough to remember riding the bus before mp3 players and smart phones. Your only options were to read or to bring a CD player. Walkmans (Walkmen?) were a pain: batteries got expensive, and carrying more than 1 or 2 CDs was a pain, so you ended up listen to a few tracks over and over. Newspapers and books were good, but not as stimulating as the internet or email or Words With Friends. I still remember waiting for the train with no music, nothing to read, and nobody to talk to; it was excruciating.
Nowadays, I prefer transit to driving, even when it's a bit longer, because I can just zone out on my iPhone the whole way.
"The percentage of young drivers is inversely related to the availability of the Internet, Mr. Sivak’s research has found. Why spend an hour driving to work when you could take the bus or train and be online?"
(from the article)
"...[A]lmost everything about digital media and technology makes cars less desirable or useful and public transportation a lot more relevant."
[from May 2010, http://adage.com/article/digital/digital-revolution-driving-...]
(I am using genaralisations about China to make these statements)
I would prefer nice public transit though, or better yet, the ability to bike without getting killed by a car.
Public transit and bikes are cheaper and cleaner, I agree. But goddammit, they are so inconvenient. Public transit is annoying because it's never close to where you live or work - your destination gets averaged with everybody else's destination in the area and therefore involves walking to subway, waiting for subway, going places, getting out, walking to work... ugh. Biking is annoying due to whether (both winter and summer is super annoying) and security (locking bike, unlocking bike, findign place to lock it...). you can just leave a car somewhere and press a button and be pretty sure it won't be stolen.
I much prefer a world with big garages, big roads, lots of free parking spaces, spread-out low-rise cities, driving to huge stores for shopping (walmart, costcos, home depot) instead of malls and little shops.
Because a bicycle can be used safely on every segment of almost any trip it becomes much more practical to dispense with car ownership and its $9100 annual bleed (according to AAA). The 24-hour metro, excellent intracity buses, and frequent trains other parts of Denmark complement the utility of bicycles in situations involving miserable weather and/or long distances. . . .
The way that we have things set up in the U.S. contributes to our higher per-capita GDP, but it does not make us better off. For example, if you think that a trip by bicycle will be unsafe due to a lack of bike lanes and take a car, you will burn gasoline, maintenance, and depreciation on that car, thereby boosting the measured GDP compared to if you had used your muscle power (not figured into GDP). If you then sign up for a gym membership and personal training to get rid of the fat that you’ve accumulated during all of these car-instead-of-bike trips, that boosts GDP though at the end of the process you will be no thinner or fitter than if you had biked. If you get hit by a car the GDP can easily be boosted by $25,000. You will buy a new bicycle. The car will need bodywork. You may be concerned about your health and get an MRI done at one of the world’s most expensive MRI clinics. Your MRI will be read by one of the world’s highest paid radiologists. What the radiologist says will be read to you, for a GDP-boosting fee, by one of the world’s highest paid neurologists.
At the very least, car sharing is a step in the right direction. Eventually as the Google car becomes reality, I hope that the # of cars on the roads is reduced to a bare minimum and we don't need to drive / pay people to drive any longer, and free up a lot of human talent to do something more productive.
Maybe not, but some of us find it vastly preferable to being crammed in with others on public transport. So don't tar everyone with your particularly preferences thanks.
On a side note, BART is probably going on strike this week, which means that an hour BART commute is soon going to turn into a 4 hour commute when the traffic on the highways double.
At that point it becomes a lot preferable to spend 1h on a train somewhere reading a book / catching up on news or email, rather than getting enraged in gridlock traffic without doing absolutely anything productive (yes, you could theoretically do radio/audiobooks).
Until then, I'll always prefer driving/walking/biking/anything. Unfortunately, I'm in a situation where I can't drive now, and I have to deal with an awful San Francisco public transit system that does 0 of the things I listed.
The problem is that you live in San Francisco.
The biggest problem in that list (safety/perceived safety) has more to do with the city than the transit system itself. It's not a brokenness in the transportation system (though more can be done to curb it, certainly), it's a brokenness in the society it serves.
It's always a little depressing to think about how so many other cities - both bigger and smaller - on this continent put the transit of San Francisco utter, complete shame.
But now there are a ton of pretty awful immigrants from the Middle East who harass women, destroy property, and threaten anyone they dislike... which is quickly making European cities very unpleasant places to live. I wouldn't be surprised if Europeans start their own version of white flight away from their cities.
On many bus routes the conditions can be positively third world. Graffiti everywhere - seats, floors, windows. Human excrement. Urine. Addicts. Homeless. MUNI buses are one of the less fortunate places you can find yourself anywhere.
Having lived there in the past, I can sympathize with residents who want to drive, or take Ubers everywhere. The public transit in the city can be a very foul experience - though this is largely a reflection of the city rather than the system itself.
We focus on crime, because it's easy to lash out at order breaking down and can relate to being harassed by the small percentage of Muni riders who can genuinely be considered subhuman refuse. In reality, though, SF has several times as many annual traffic casualties (around 3000, from some rudimentary Googling) as crimes reported on Muni (around 1000).
That latter figure has some factors that may suggest undercounting (it's reported crimes, and I can see how people might have so little faith in Muni that they don't bother reporting it) but also some that suggest overcounting (it includes fare violations and eating on the bus).
Muni certainly needs to be cleaned up, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: you're much more likely to die via automobile in SF than being shot or stabbed on the Muni. I wouldn't be surprised if you're more likely to be killed being hit by a Muni than murdered on the Muni.
For various reasons, it is still much cheaper to live in the suburbs and commute into the city than to live in San Francisco. I wonder how the other walkable cities are fairing.
Perhaps when people buy homes, they tend to not buy a new car at the same time - prior to the housing crisis, many people bought lots of homes. Then the market collapsed and they lost their money, further reducing the number of new cars bought.
Oddly enough, some 2000-model-year used Hondas and Toyotas did not depreciate in value between 2010 and 2013 because the used car market heated up.
The suggestion that destroying operational vehicles would be a net gain for the economy is an excellent illustration of the broken window fallacy.
Cash-for-clunkers helped middle and upper-middle class people, including some friends of mine, who wanted to buy new cars. The cost of the program was born mostly by poor people, as is often the case.
Or starve, as the case may be.
I live in Colorado, in a super bike-friendly city, and I'm buying a car. Can't take public transportation to a campground. Can't take public transportation to a mountain bike trail. Public transportation for skiing is a huge pain in the ass.
What if Google or another company perfects self-driving cars? You could have "cars" that are basically motorized shopping carts. You go online and register your car with a particular store. Your car could drive from store to store having the workers load everything for you. If a lot of people use this it could be efficient since these self-driving vehicles drive optimally and won't get into accidents and will cooperate with each other to get to where they're going.
This way I can spend more time doing what I want and less time stuck in traffic and more time doing what I want. Basically it's automating a set of tasks you used to do with a car. I hope that day comes very soon.
Instead of having your car driving around, it would be much better to have businesses' trucks and vans going to customers. This way, companies get a better distribution process, parking lots become a thing of the past, you get to reduce your car usage... and perhaps this even makes it viable to have car-sharing companies working in the suburbs.
1) Where are the data/charts behind this statement: "Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way. " If the whole premise of the article is that this is more than just something related to the recession, shouldn't we be able to see that data for ourselves, and the justification should be more than a passing statement. The wording of "by many measures" also makes it sound like the author is cherry picking metrics to make his point. I'd also like to see the car usage compared to unemployment rates for the same age group. Overall, I just don't believe the validity of the claim without seeing more data.
2) As the author says "Whether members of the millennial generation will start buying more cars once they have kids to take to soccer practice and school plays remains an open question." I'm not sure it is an open question. When you're single and can live near where you work, it's reasonable to get on without a car. Then life changes, and you need a car.
3) If there is an actual drop-off in car usage, then it could be because we likely are at an inflection point of some significant changes in the industry. The two big ones being electric cars with Tesla leading the way, and the second one being self-driving cars with Google leading the way. We might just be seeing a temporary drop as people reject the "old" way, and as these two new technologies take-off and become more mainstream, so again will car usage .
I really freaking hope we've sorted out some better engine than internal combustion.
But even batteries might be tricky - how much rare earth metal do you need for a billion electric vehicles?
The problem with Beijing population all driving cars isn't so much that they're driving cars - it's weird of me to demand they still ride bicycles - but that they mostly drive badly made badly maintained cars.
Also, this is the kind of thing where international travel helps you see other perspectives. The first 'drive through mailbox' I saw was in the US. At Gilroy Outlets I would see someone leave one store, get in their car, drive 20 yards to be outside the next store, get out, go shopping, get back in their car, drive 50 yards to the next store they wanted to visit, and so on. I have no idea if that's common in the US, but I saw it in a few different malls in CA. It kind of freaked me out. (I understand if these people have a disability that makes walking painful or whatnot. That wasn't obvious from looking at them. Maybe they just hate the smell of garlic?)
Services like lyft perfectly patch over that hole. The cost of taking lyft indiscriminately is still less than owning and maintaining a car and the time I spend waiting for a lyft is counterbalanced by the time I would have spent parking.
The reason for this is more directly "The Internet" than they suggest. Nearly everything that used to require you to drive somewhere is now done online. You order products off Amazon today.
The same is true with manual transmission, you can't find it on the market ANYWHERE.
Patently false. Manual transmissions are not as common as automatics, and certain vehicles no longer offer a manual transmission, but they can still be found in many different vehicles.
certain vehicles no longer offer a manual transmission
Are you trying to tell me these two statements are equivalent?
Henry Ford famously said "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black" and that's the problem today. An entire market of buyers is being ignored.
If you accept that only grey color cars are being made and wonder why people aren't buying grey cars, nothing can help you.
An entire market of buyers is being ignored
If the entire market of buyers you speak of consists of 3 people, it should be ignored. I am a fan of manual transmissions, and nearly all of the vehicles I have ever owned are/have been manual. But I have no delusions- I realize & accept that the gross majority of Lexus customers, for example, have absolutely no desire for a manual transmission.
As best I can tell, automakers are not campaigning against the manual transmission and trying to "shut it down", or any such bullshit. They are simply reacting to market demands. This is most apparent looking at trucks. Base model trucks with manual transmissions can be found with ease. Top-trim trucks of the same model are very difficult to find in manual. As the two examples are identical models (but different trim), they are directly comparable and we know both varieties of transmission are available. The market speaks, however; the buyers interested in the top-trim trucks want automatics. The buyers interested in the base model trucks want manual. This is clearly evident in the scarcity (but not absence) of manual transmissions in top-trim trucks.
What is happening (IMO) is that "old" cars (in relative terms) are lasting longer and longer. The car I learned to drive in had a 5-digit odometer. The car I drive today can reasonably be expected to reach 250k with regular maintenance.
many would-be car buyers just aren't finding what they want in a car
Ok, what do they want? 'Cause I assure you, "it doesn't have a manual transmission" is not the complaint of the majority.
And I don't understand why... everybody is licensed driver, which means everybody can drive stick. Also manual transmission cars are cheaper. So what compels rental companies to have automatic transmission fleets?
You can take your driving test in an automatic in many states (US).
Btw, are you Turkish?
That's a separate can of worms but I have to say, I really don't see those form factors disappearing because of tablets. I think it's more of a "modern technology and better performance leads to longer use before replacement"- which may also apply to modern cars.
Even software is often hard to make modular, things in the physical world... even harder.
I don't know about that. The Tesla Model S seems to be just that, according to every reviewer and customer I've heard. What other mainstream car has a waiting list?
The good news is that the future is a fleet of self driving cars. Everybody wins in that world. Safe, efficient, clean, and fast. It's gonna be great.
Cars, unless we go with the monorail-pod-car concept, will always have particulate pollution due to tires (even EVs like the Tesla). Furthermore, all the self-driving cars right now are also gas-powered (hybrid, IIRC). It's not clear how the intersection of mass-market self-driving cars and human drivers will result, safety-wise, leaving alone pedestrians. I won't contest the "fast" claim you put out there, but given safety concerns, it's likely not going to be much faster than non-automated car results.
Public transport is a poor solution, but it's simply the safest, most efficient that exists unless you're simply unconcerned with reality or don't care about scale. When Musk shows up with a working pod-car concept (he's hinted at it), then I'm on board. Until then, I'm a champion of least suck transport model that exists.