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Why buy a car when you’ve got mobile apps

One of the things that many city planners, transportation experts, and municipalities are trying to figure out is how to successfully shift people away from driving towards alternative modes of transportation, such as biking and transit. Now, this is no easy task. There are a myriad of factors that influence a person’s decision to drive or not drive–or if they should even own a car in the first place. Though, land use and density are, in my opinion, probably the biggest.

But of all the solutions thrown around, mobile apps are typically not within the playbook. However a recent New York Times article is making the argument that it should be, because car-sharing services and apps like Uber seem to be indeed having an affect on people’s decision to own a car. And that’s because in some cities it’s actually cheaper to use Uber every day (than to own a car) and because taxi use has been shown to correlate with other (non-driving) forms of mobility.

Paradoxically, some experts say, the increased use of ride-sharing services could also spawn renewed interest in and funding for public transportation, because people generally use taxis in conjunction with many other forms of transportation.

In other words, if Uber and its ride-sharing competitors succeed, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see many small and midsize cities become transportation nirvanas on the order of Manhattan — places where forgoing car ownership isn’t just an outré lifestyle choice, but the preferred way to live.

And to be honest, I don’t think this is all that far stretched. More and more I find myself wondering why I even own a car. It’s not appreciating sitting downstairs in my garage and, given the frequency in which I use it, I would definitely be better off financially if I simply used an app like Uber or Hailo more often. About the only thing those apps aren’t great for are trips to Home Depot and snowboard trips to the mountain. 

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