Sometimes, I just want to eyeroll. But first something pretty for your trouble:
This piece smacks of privilege and limited thinking. Of course you don’t need a car. Almost no one in NYC needs a car. You can OWN a car, but ownership is deliberately expensive to encourage public transport usage. Buses, trains and subways are everywhere, not to mention the thousands of taxis and black cars. Of course you have access to ride sharing.
And of course electric cars and other “green” solutions makes sense in the city. Most of the time you are crawling along the street instead of going highway speeds. Most of the time your point A to point B is less than the average American commute. Of course chargers are everywhere. Of course the city is walk-able. If you want to be even more “green”, scooters and bikes are there, for free.
Meanwhile, most of us do not live in dense, public transport-rich city. Some of us live dozens of miles away from where we work, shop, or entertain, where bus trip would take hours, train stations nowhere near where we want to go, and taxi are poorly regulated and expensive. Even if Uber and Lyft are options, they cost much more if you live anywhere in the suburbs away from downtown.
Then there is the economics. The poor can’t use ride share all the time, because it is cost-prohibitive, and with the current trend of rising prices in downtown areas, more and more of the urban poor are priced out of places with short commutes and relocating to suburbs or exurbs in metropolitan areas, effectively reversing the “white flight” that took place decades ago. There is virtually no political will among state and municipal governments to push for more public transport, which would need a rise in taxes and opponents can paint them as “socialist” or worse. In the face of insufficient public transport options, owning a car is a necessity, even if the car is older and less fuel efficient.
And then there is the fact that the US of A is HUGE. Outside of the Northeast corridor, communities are pretty damn far apart from each other. Compared to Europe, where people are much more densely packed and distances are short, similar transport infrastructure would take a magnitude more money to upgrade or develop, not to mention years.
Let’s take my area for example. I live in Southeast Florida, a large metro area that stretches from Palm Beach to Miami. We recently got a semi-highspeed train service between three major points, but otherwise the remaining options are taxis that specialize in gouging customers, ride shares that charges insane surge charges when customers need them the most, or buses that runs a limited map that would take hours to go from point A to B. The existing commuter rail and above ground subway (in Miami) are extremely limited. A streetcar project in Fort Lauderdale was cancelled due to costs. Electric scooter are blamed for increased accidents and fatalities, and might soon be cancelled. Bike lanes are non-existent on most major roads, even if you are willing and able to bike miles and miles to your destination. Charging infrastructures for electric cars are here, but not enough that we can all switch to electric. The entire area was designed and planned with the assumption that cars would be a fixture, and without them the entire metro area would stop functioning.
Then there is a culture thing. Car ownership is so ingrained in American culture, so central to the identity of being an American outside the city, that it would take ages to get to the point where we would be comfortable with using individual cars as shared property with anyone who is not family (hell, i had a hard time letting my husband use my Audi). The idea of a car is not just transport, it is also a personal cocoon of privacy. You can sing and no one would tell you to shut up, you can fart without offending anyone but yourself. Unless and until fully autonomous cars shows up and take you anywhere you wish, privately, the idea of ride sharing as a salve to not having a car is silly.
So yeah, the idea that owning a car is as quaint as owning a horse? Not happening.