This morning I was thumbing through my copy of The Economist to find an intriguing headline: “Seeing the back of the car.” The “briefing” at the top of the page said, “The future of driving.”
After reading through the article, it’s seems to me that the author makes a convincing point (with data!) that the automobile has reached its peak.. It’s pretty hard to argue with some of the evidence, too. I’ve included one of the more enlightening graphs below. In it, you can see that the percentage of people getting their license (as compared across years) is definitely declining. While we can’t necessarily say that this means the end of the car. It would certainly be a contributing factor, though, if this were to occur. The Economist isn’t the only place where this argument’s being made either.
Much has been made of the generations transitioning into the work world and their lack of affinity for buying houses and cars. There are some reasonable explanations for this, too. If we think about the era that they’ve grown up, owning cars and houses weren’t the “be-all, end-all” like it was for previous generations. There’s a strong preference for spending money on other things.
One of my more popular posts here at Genuine Thriving was something I wrote near the beginning of my time writing here called, “Advancing Americas Public Transportation System: High-Speed Rail in the USA.” In my weekly glance at the posts that get the most hits, it’s often near the top. There are a number of possible explanations, but I think it has to do with a greater affinity for public transportation (than there used to be). As someone who has spent time in a number of different cities and countries with varying qualities of public transportation, it seems to me that a successful public transit is one of the cornerstones to a thriving local economy.
Note: If you’d like more evidence that public transit is vital to a city’s economy, check out Richard Florida’s work, who’s a Professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.