TTG 1896 for Sunday 22 May 2022

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Let me try to come at this ending personal car ownership debate from a different angle.

I used to live in the NYC suburbs and commute into the city. I have gotten to know a lot of the very friendly small business owners in Manhattan and I have spoken to them about this issue.

They say their businesses have never fully recovered since the pandemic. They say offices not being filled due to remote work have hurt their businesses dramatically. Subway ridership continues to be well below pre-pandemic levels (remote work, crime are factors here).

They say if NYC banned cars, it would essentially “cut them off” from the suburban folks that will spend money in the city at their businesses. This will encourage more remote work and less foot traffic in the city. Let’s face it. Suburbanites hate public transportation and big cities. Therefore, the more difficult and inconvenient you make things for them, the less likely they are to bother coming into the city.

So I think then cities have to make a choice on this: Do you ban cars for environmental reasons, because if you do you will be hurting a lot of small mom and pop stores that are already struggling to make ends meet.

Banning car OWNERSHIP [by the general public] is explicitly not imply banning all means of public transportation. If such a “conversion” occurred, most likely there would still be delivery vehicles (including transport trucks), and some form of a “taxi” service, as well as buses, trains and planes. The idea would be that everyone could have access to what amounts to a public ride hailing (taxi) service, but with cars that don’t have human drivers directing them. So in essence you would decide you’re going to go get groceries, and you would hail a lift to the grocery store and some random available transportation device (a car or a pod or a helicopter or whatever becomes common in a city) shows up and takes you and drops you off and then immediately leaves to serve other people. When you’re done shopping, you hail another ride, and this time it knows where you are and also knows you likely need more room for your groceries, and you get an appropriate ride back home.

Since self-driving still isn’t here yet, nothing like this concept is also here yet. But it does seem likely that in the longer term, once self-driving cars are common, that cities will reorganize to discourage car ownership in favour of everyone having access to such system. This way the transports can go off and charge as needed, and then return to service when ready. It cuts down on the total number of transports that are needed in total because not everyone is being transported all the time.

If everyone can share a pool of cars it would decrease congestion, and eliminate the cost of the car purchase, the insurance, the gas and maintenance in favour of some other means of paying for this public service. If you’re rational about the cost benefit analysis of car ownership when you don’t use it probably more than 10% of the time (considering you sleep at least) then it doesn’t really seem like a good value, especially as fuel prices head ever higher. I’ll grant you there are “feelings” of freedom, etc… We definitely have emotions tied into car ownership… but that probably has to change for planet if for no other reason.

As I said before, I do not think very many Americans will accept being dependent on the government or some corporation for transportation. We can agree to disagree on that, but I just want to give another angle to this debate.

I acknowledge that I only use my car 10-20% of my day. However, that is one of the reasons why the car lasts 12 years on average. If you have a scenario that you envision, cars will have to be replaced far more frequently, whether they are self driving or not.

Btw, I think FSD is not something anyone over the age of 45 will see mainstreamed in their lifetime.
Just to give an idea about how far out I think that is.