Many people around the country need cars to get around. They’re an essential. Yet most cars are parked and idle some 95% of the time, and more than 70% of commutes are in single-occupancy vehicles. Surely there’s a better way to get from Point A to Point B?
The sharing economy, spurred by technological advances, might be changing that waste of a car’s usefulness, according to an article on Vox.
Of course, individual car ownership is important for people – that freedom of movement, that sense of liberty brought on by being able to go where you want when you want, and the comfort of a car versus much public transportation – even if car ownership, upkeep and associated costs such as fuel can make owning a car expensive for some.
New technology allows for more sophisticated car-sharing (or ride-sharing), which can permit people to get where they want without having to wait too long for the transport. Additional technology might also create a fleet of minibuses or taxis to take small groups of people from designated spots that aren’t too far from their homes or work.
Models of what might happen if these systems were put into wide use have shown a sharp decrease in road congestion, pollution and the use of public space for transportation. As David Roberts writes in Vox: “Vehicle emissions would drop by a third! (And that’s with gas cars, not electric.) The car fleet would only need to be 3 percent the size of today’s!”
What’s more, such changes would make it easier for people to get to work – creating more job opportunities.
Of course, obstacles remain – such as access to share vehicles, as well as, most important, transitioning to shared vehicles. Not to mention the coordination of everything (and the willingness of people to share in the sharing).
Still, as more people talk about this, and more technologies arrive to help support it, it may be but a small step from thinking about reducing our dependence on one car, one driver-passenger, to arriving at a world where we get where we want together, without sacrificing our independence.[rps]