The automobile was one of the most important aspects of the American Dream during the 20th century. Learning to drive and getting a license was a rite of passage for teenagers in the United States, and taking responsibility for owning your own car was something that could be equated with freedom. The cycles of prosperity experienced by Americans after World War II made the automobile even more relevant once families started migrating from the large cities to the suburbs, where transportation options were not so common.
Times are changing and Americans are driving less, according to a report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of demographics and socioeconomic trends. There has reportedly been a 6 percent reduction in overall driving. One of the surprises behind this trend is that young people are leading the ranks of non-drivers.
The Economic Factors
The economic downturn has a lot to do with the reduced driving trend. There was a time when people moved to the suburbs to improve their quality of life and save money, but after the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble, many families moved closer to the cities where they could find greater employment opportunities. Life in the suburbs became unsustainable for some people who ended up foregoing their cars or drastically reducing the time spent behind the wheel once they moved back to the city.
Car and Ride Sharing Services
Business ventures like Uber are offering city dwellers innovative ways to get around. People who live in major cities have many transportation options, from mass transit to taxi cab service, but they welcome any new and interesting alternatives. Uber provides a private car service that similar to taxicabs but is more personalized and upscale.
Riders can access the Uber fleet of on-demand cars and drivers through an iPhone or Android-powered device, a web browser, or even text messaging. The mobile app provides the best experience with a map that shows the different transportation options, like limousines, luxury sedans, and SUVs, along with their real-time locations throughout the city. Riders simply select their location and wait for an Uber driver to arrive. Once the Uber car is dispatched, riders are notified of the location and estimated time of arrival via text message. Uber riders sign up for the service in advance with a credit card, so they don’t have to worry about paying or tipping the driver.
The foremost benefits to Uber riders are cost-savings and convenience. The cost of maintaining and insuring a luxury vehicle these days is prohibitive for many vehicle owners, and to this end Uber provides luxury and convenience at very affordable prices.
In San Francisco and New York, Uber plans to use a hybrid vehicle fleet to offset operational costs and pass the savings on to customers. Other services like ZipCar and Relayrides use smartphone and social media technology to provide riders with viable transportation options, but even those who own vehicles and have consciously reduced their mileage can benefit from them.
While private transportation solutions like Uber, may be a little drastic for many consumers, they do offer valuable savings.
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