I’ve never been particular about where I live; cities, suburbs, rural areas, it doesn’t matter. But over the years I’ve become intent about how close I live to work. It needs to be within walking or biking distance.
Yesterday a friend told me about a book she’s reading that details the rise of the automotive industry. Back in the 1950’s, auto companies would purchase train lines just to demolish them. Without the competition from public transportation, more and more people were forced to buy cars — a significantly more expensive option.
The tragic results can be seen in most cities today. Seth Godin recently wrote about it on his blog:
“How much does it cost you in tolls to drive across town? In most cities, the answer is nothing.
How much does it cost you to take a bus or subway across town? In most cities, if it’s available at all, quite a bit.
How did that come to be?
Mass transit is safer, cleaner and more efficient. It gives more people more access to work and amenities. A city with great mass transit works better for more people. Even those that don’t use it. It’s at least a useful public good as the streets are.
It’s technically easy to put tolls all over a city, wastes no time, and it’s economically efficient to make it incrementally free to hop on a bus and expensive to drive a car.
So why haven’t we? Why, in fact, are we going the other direction?
Because we like the status quo.
Because there’s familiar profit in the car-industrial complex. The extraction industries, the manufacturers, the dealers, etc. It’s an ongoing, widespread income stream. This generates cash to pay lobbyists and others to create a cultural dynamic in favor of the status quo.
It turns out that it’s pretty cheap to buy outcomes that benefit a minority. And business loves a bargain.”
There’s a better way that saves significant money over the course of a lifetime.
Start here: Curing your Clown-Like Car Habit