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vodkafan

The end of the era of personal car ownership

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I have not owned a car for about four years now, because living in a bedsit I have nowhere to park one.

But I have had to hire cars quite a lot this year for essential family occasions. It was on the jam-packed motorway last week that I had a sudden lightning -bolt insight of what has to happen in the future. I believe that for the good of all, personal car ownership must end.

I don't know how many cars there are in the UK, but I know that it is too many. The road infrastructure was not meant to hold this much traffic. And then of course there are all the pollution issues and the waste of precious resources. You can argue that electric cars will bring down the pollution problems, but the mining of lithium for the new generation of lightweight batteries (and disposal of same) will just bring another set of problems.

My main bugbear is the huge waste: nobody drives their car for enough hours in a day to really justify personal ownership. Let's face it, even if you drive for an hour to get to work everyday, your car will sit idle in a car park for a third of the day before you drive it home and then it will sit on the street or on your drive another third of the day at night while you sleep. They really are just an awful expensive luxury most of the time.

Imagine a world where streets were spacious tree lined avenues empty of parked cars. 

How would this be achieved? I would do away with 95% of the small cars on the roads. Instead, there would be a pool of vehicles buzzing around which you could apply in advance to have a car for a time. A bit like in the war maybe when only essential journeys were allowed. The cars would probably be highly robotized anyway, we are heading that way. If you needed one at short notice you would maybe just call for it with an app on your phone. 

So there would be far less cars on the roads, but they would be fully employed everyday. Imagine having your breakfast , getting the kids ready for school and then stepping out the house and a car would whisk you and them to school and drop you off. But then it would zip off somewhere else for another errand.

I envision that only government officials would be authorized their own cars, or maybe private corporations would be allowed so many to distribute as needed to employees who needed to travel.

I doubt that people would give up their cars without a fight. And insurance companies wouldn't like it, and the car companies....

What do people think? Could it work? If not , why not? 

Edited by vodkafan
spelling mistake

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You've not had an original idea, I'm afraid. I saw Robert Llewellyn doing a talk about this - and other energy saving concepts - a couple of years ago. 

 

It's an interesting idea, but there are too many self interested parties involved in the game for this to happen. 

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Don't say that - I brought a new car last week!

 

But, in all seriousness, I think eventually, individual car ownership will probably go the way of the Dodo. However, I don't think it will be an easy thing to give up or will happen too soon. We are, as a species, just a little bit too selfish still to want to give up our status symbols.  

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It will take legislation to make this happen, and no government is going to cut off the tax stream car ownership currently provides unless it can make the same amount from another model.  That's gonna take a lot of working out. 

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13 hours ago, ian said:

Don't say that - I brought a new car last week!

 

But, in all seriousness, I think eventually, individual car ownership will probably go the way of the Dodo. However, I don't think it will be an easy thing to give up or will happen too soon. We are, as a species, just a little bit too selfish still to want to give up our status symbols.  

I have a Ford Fiesta, it's hardly a status symbol! ;-)

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I own a car, but hate driving it. At my previous job I got the tram to work and enjoyed it - reading time! 

 

But now, it takes me 15 minutes to drive to work, or more than an hour on public transport. Not really practical, especially working late shifts.

 

I would love to give up the car, but so far public transport hasn't been reliable enough. I think that really has to improve. Trains would also need to become cost effective. My mum has been dying to get the train to work for years (and read!) but it's been too expensive for her until she turned 60 and got a rail pass. 

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I own a car - this is my second one. I'd use an alternative if there was one that provided as much freedom and other advantages, like taking you straight from point A to point B.

 

The system you're describing sounds a lot like just taking a taxi, or am I understanding it wrong? 

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Public transport would have to improve dramatically or my personal circumstances would have to change for me to be able to think about getting rid of my car.  I live 15 miles from work and start at 7am, and work some Sundays too.  If I wanted to get to work on the bus and get to work on time, I'd need to start the night before, as there are no buses that would get me to work on time.  Even if there were, I'd still have to change buses twice to get to work, and would take approximately an hour and three quarters each way compared to twenty five minutes in the car.  We don't have a local train station, and again, no bus to get to the nearest one before 9:30am.  Sundays would be even worse.  It would take over two hours each way, which is just impossible.

 

On 8/7/2017 at 9:06 PM, vodkafan said:

My main bugbear is the huge waste: nobody drives their car for enough hours in a day to really justify personal ownership. Let's face it, even if you drive for an hour to get to work everyday, your car will sit idle in a car park for a third of the day before you drive it home and then it will sit on the street or on your drive another third of the day at night while you sleep.

 

On 8/7/2017 at 9:06 PM, vodkafan said:

How would this be achieved? I would do away with 95% of the small cars on the roads. Instead, there would be a pool of vehicles buzzing around which you could apply in advance to have a car for a time.

 

Surely the problem with this model is that everyone wants the car at the same time, i.e. to get to work.  While hours are becoming more flexible, there are still periods of peak car usage, and you'll never get a way from that.

 

When we lived in the city about 25 years ago, I hardly ever used the car, and walked almost everywhere, but public transport was a viable alternative for anything further than walking distance.  Nowadays, the bus system is good, but train fares are far too expensive for long journeys.

 

20 hours ago, Michelle said:

I have a Ford Fiesta, it's hardly a status symbol! ;-)

 

Snap! :D

 

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Vodka's idea isn't about switching people to public transport, it's about having a publically owned fleet of cars that are made available to people as they are required, instead of having lots of privately owned cars sitting around idle most of the time.

 

Walking home from work in the evenings I often have to pass a queue of cars trying to get out of town, and with very few exceptions most of them have a single occupant. That means one person getting up in the morning, getting in their car, driving 10/20 minutes to work, leaving the car in a car park all day and then repeating the exercise again in the evening - multiplied by many.  Instead of having all of those cars sitting in a car park all day, what if they could be used to allow a parent to do the school run, or an elderly couple to go shopping or have a day out?

 

When food waste is being highlighted it is something people can easily get their heads around (because the image of a skip full of veg being dumped in landfill has a visual impact) but privately owned cars are probably a bigger symbol of waste than anything else in our daily lives.  When you stop and think about all of the materials that go into a car, how they had to be mined, smelted, fabricated; the distance the raw materials travel, the energy used to assemble them etc. having them then sitting around in a car park or drive way for most of the day is crazy! 

 

And that's before you take into account all of the roads, car parks and other infrastructure that is required to support them and the extraction, refining and burning of the fuels they use.

 

People have got used to having cars to use on demand, but like a lot of things in modern life the implications of what that really means have been sacrificed in the name of convenience.  Any change to the existing model is going to take a fundamental mind-shift in society, and I just can't see happening in the short-term.

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Raven has got my point exactly.  But  Claire makes many cogent points at the practical level. The majority of folks would need the transport at the same peak times every day.  And many people do nowadays live considerable distances from where they work.

This would be , as Raven says, a major mind shift and also a change in the way we live. 

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There are already some schemes such as the Co-Wheels Car Club, and they could work in cities for short use hire, but I still can't see a situation where I could use something like this as a commuter.

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4 hours ago, vodkafan said:

Raven has got my point exactly.  But  Claire makes many cogent points at the practical level. The majority of folks would need the transport at the same peak times every day.  And many people do nowadays live considerable distances from where they work.

This would be , as Raven says, a major mind shift and also a change in the way we live. 

 

If people are all travelling at the same time now, then there must be significant opportunities for people to car share more than they do. 

 

If flexible working hours are preventing that, then companies should be encouraged to standardise their working hours to make it easier for employees to travel together (perhaps with staggered start times across different areas to avoid everyone heading for work at 9am, for example). 

 

There are a lot of practical things that could be done, by again it comes down to people having to change their mindset.

 

2 hours ago, chesilbeach said:

There are already some schemes such as the Co-Wheels Car Club, and they could work in cities for short use hire, but I still can't see a situation where I could use something like this as a commuter.

 

We obviously aren't at a point where something like this could be implemented today, even if there was public will to do so, but I think over time technology will be able to help with this.  Companies are already testing driverless cars, for example, so in the future it may be possible for some to book a car to turn up at a set time, by itself, no matter how remote they are from a large town or city.

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I would love if public transport was sufficient in Ireland to not need a car. I don't have one, neither I nor OH can drive, but the older I get the more I want to be able to simply for convenience. Work is a 10 minute drive from me, or a 40 minute walk. Getting the bus takes 45 - 50 mins, including the walking to and from on either end. As well as that, we can't bring our dog anywhere, or go anywhere that public transport doesn't go (which in the west of Ireland, is a LOT of places). I love the idea of being able to drive, and just borrow a car when needed. I could just hire one for the day when we want to e.g. to take the dog to the beach, and that's a route we may go down, but I may also just get a little car.

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It's very different here in the US since we have so many people living in rural areas, but I can see where a car wouldn't be needed if one lived in a big city like Chicago, NY or DC, where a person could go everywhere on the train.  I've driven since I was 16 and am probably on my 6th car that I've owned.  Where I live now is a small town out in the middle of corn fields and the only train by me is a freight train.  If I wanted to go into the city, which is an hour away, I'd have to drive.  Or at least drive to another town where I could catch a bus.  I guess it's all about convenience for me, and the freedom to go where I want when I want.

 

We were planning on taking the trains/buses in the UK when we visit in a couple of weeks, but realized it will be easier to get a car so we don't have to plan our itinerary around the transport schedules.  Of course none of us have driven in the UK before, so FYI everyone, beware! ;) 

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18 hours ago, Peacefield said:

 

We were planning on taking the trains/buses in the UK when we visit in a couple of weeks, but realized it will be easier to get a car so we don't have to plan our itinerary around the transport schedules.  Of course none of us have driven in the UK before, so FYI everyone, beware! ;) 

 

Tell us what day you are coming, we will all stay indoors :unsure:

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5 hours ago, vodkafan said:

 

Tell us what day you are coming, we will all stay indoors :unsure:

 

:lol:  We land on 31st August and will be driving ALL over the UK and Ireland so you never know where we'll show up!  Don't worry, I've been watching lots of YouTube videos ;) 

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2 hours ago, Peacefield said:

 

:lol:  We land on 31st August and will be driving ALL over the UK and Ireland...

 

Mind the wet bit in the middle...

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Probably a better idea to hire a car, as a lot of train lines carry out engineering work at the weekends, and have replacement bus services instead (which are an experience in their own right!).

 

Back to Raven's original point - I agree up to a point about car ownership, but like others on here, I think if you're not near a major town or city, then a car is probably essential. 

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I can see the point that you are trying to make Raven about car ownership being a luxury and for some it is, but it depends very much on where you live and the hours that you work. If you live in a large town and work 9-5 or thereabouts then you probably don't need one, but very few people do that these days. When you live in a rural area like I do with a very limited bus service and the nearest train station 5 miles away there is no viable alternative to using your own car. It takes me 20 minutes to drive the 8 miles to where I work, but if I had to do that same journey by public transport if would take more like an hour and a half. That would mean leaving home at about 6am in order to get to work by 7.30am and then getting home again at 5pm after finishing at 3.30pm. That is neither practical nor desirable, given how tiring my work can be. Using my own car is probably cheaper as well given the high cost of bus fares in my area. One of the cleaners who used to work for me used to pay £65 a month in bus fares for travelling less than half the distance I would have to. That is roughly the same amount that I spend on petrol each month. Yes there are other costs associated with running a car like road tax and so on, but how much freedom does that give me compared to using public transport. What price can you put on the amount of time it saves? To me that time is priceless.     

Edited by Talisman

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I grew up in "the country" or rural Virginia. The closet store is 30 minutes. my high school was 1.5 hours away by bus. They have no public transportation. I don't even think they have Uber, not even in the township. Most jobs are on production lines and are shift work, everything else is either in the school system or retail. There is no way to actually utilize ride sharing in that sense. Most folks just catch a ride with a family member going in that direction. The thing is to catch them before they leave.

 

Where I live now, even though its a larger county with townships within the county we have no bus system per se. I don't know if you've heard of Hilton Head Island but they have the only bus system and that is so they can bus in workers for the huge hospitality industry. Some of those folks ride for 2/3 hours! There is a limited amount of Uber drivers and taxis but its expensive. I'm moving from a larger city that has a transit system but honestly, I just can't be bothered. I have issues. I don't like people in my personal space. I have a sensitive nose and its easily offended by body odor. I don' like hearing other people's cell phone conversation, loud gum chewing and I am REALLY paranoid of folks sneezing and coughing indiscriminately. All these factors make me the worst candidate of public transportation. I also have to have my freedom. I don't want to wait to do something or go somewhere or be on another person's schedule. I guess its selfish but not everyone is cut out for communal transportation. I don't even like to fly because I have no control over who sits beside me or behind me. 

 

Yes, I have issues, lol!:lol:  

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No you don't Virginia - you are just you, and I am the same, although I don't mind flying. In fact I like flying. It's long distance busses more than anything that do my head in - being stuck in traffic with no way out of it because you have follow a set route, other people's loud music and irritating behaviour, toilets that don't work and nothing whatsoever for anyone who eats neither meat nor wheat! Give me my own car any day.  

Edited by Talisman

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