What most people today don’t realize, either through ignorance or lack of concern, is that many companies are trying desperately to convince people that theirs is the way of the future. That we need them. That we depend on them. Of course there is no future unless people buy into these visions of the future. The one that has me most intrigued are the Ride Sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber; Modern day car services. Below are a number of points to consider regarding the so-called future of transportation in this country.
- Both companies are trying their hardest to convince people that sharing transportation, or self driving paid vehicles are the future of transportation throughout the world. In order for them to be successful, they must literally convince hundreds of millions of people that not only is this the wave of the future but it will do away with the need to own an automobile. While there is a cost to owning an automobile, owning one equates to freedom. Automobile freedom is getting in one’s car and driving where ever one wants, whenever one wants, not ordering a car on the phone and tracking it to see when it will arrive. A big improvement over the old-fashioned car service but still just a car service. GM obviously believes in the Lyft mission and viability to the tune of $500 million dollars and has actually attempted to purchase the company.
- The current valuations of Lyft and Uber are pure fantasy, based on their extraordinary ability to raise capital and the belief by investors that in the not too distant future they will become money-making ventures. The ride sharing car model is predicated on the notion that a) the self driving car is going to be viable within a finite period of time and b) enough Americans and people throughout the world, will give up car ownership and buy into ride sharing. Mass Transportation in the major cities already offers a miserable ride sharing program but at minimal cost. Whether these glorified car services will survive is anyone’s guess. Drivers are filing grievances about the revenue share and whether they are employees or independent contractors. This will all be sorted out in the courts. But the only way to do away with these issues, especially if the courts rule in favor of the drivers, is to do away with drivers in favor of self driving technology, which is certainly the plan.
- This notion of the sharing economy or lack of ownership is the exact opposite of what the United States was founded upon. Ownership of a car or a home, is what makes us free people, not dependent on others or the government. Throughout history, all people wanted was a piece of land to own, a home and finally a car or two. Autocratic states like North Korea deprive their citizens of ownership claiming that the good of the state supersedes the good of the individual. Owning a car is fundamental to freedom if one so chooses.
- These companies suggest that they will help reduce green house emissions but the best way to change the world is by discovering alternative fuel sources. Other than energy industry motives, why can’t automobiles be powered by solar energy, stored in batteries. Having owned a Chevrolet Volt during Hurricane Sandy it’s value became apparent. The only issue is that although the car could run entirely on its battery, the battery is charged by electricity produced by coal-burning plants. If solar panels could be installed to charge the batteries, they would truly be green cars.
- Large cities like New York, Chicago and Boston, already have fairly competent transportation systems. All Uber or Lyft have done in these cities is make it easier to commute to the airport or around the cities, particularly during the busiest hours of the day and busiest times of the year, i.e. Rush hour, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Average people in New York, millennials, for example, who are struggling to pay huge rents, don’t own cars. And in fact, even the people of my generation who lived in the city after school, didn’t own cars. The people who can afford them and the $500-$1,000 price tag per month to garage them at night, aren’t giving up their cars so they can carpool with another person or two in order to save the planet.
- The sharing economy is not a healthy economy. It’s only healthy for those who are profiting from the idea. This is especially true if the ultimate goal is to go driverless. It’s just the opposite. Wealthy people aren’t giving up their Porsche’s and Mercedes. The very wealthy, already have their own cars and drivers so there is no need for them to partake in this. If someone has the financial means to purchase an automobile, I dispute the notion that he or she will forgo this purchase in favor of a ride share. What’s the point of making money if not using it to buy things? It’s what keeps our economy healthy. There is no shame in purchasing things one desires if one can afford them. It’s part of the American Dream.
- I admit that I never take a taxi or Uber anywhere and I’m strongly biased against them. It stems from the accident I was in, in Miami, when the driver of my car rear ended the driver in front of us on I-95. It was an accident that if I had been driving, would have been avoided. Since then, I refuse to put my life in the hands of a stranger who is the same person I yell at for being a terrible driver. In addition, I must also admit that I would never feel comfortable being driven around in an automobile with no steering wheel or pedals. Computers are not infallible!! Is there anyone who really wants to put their lives and their loved ones, in complete control of a computer?
- Many Americans live between the two coasts. They have families and their children play soccer, baseball and football. Someone in the family, in the community, is the car service driver. It’s impractical to call for a car every time a family needs to go to these events or the market for that matter. Cars are a necessity in much of the country and the inconvenience and cost of services like Uber and Lyft simply aren’t practical. They are already ride sharing and this practice has been going on for decades.
- Finally, cars are about individuality, excitement, pleasure, FUN! To buy into the concept that cars are only a means for transportation will require a complete change of the American psyche. I have more faith in Americans than that. But most importantly, when I drive my car, it’s My Car, My Car Smells, My Car Music, My Driving Ability…..Mine….Sharing isn’t yours, it’s theirs.