The Benefits of Shared Mobility

January 22, 2015

It’s pretty widely acknowledged that America’s driving boom is over. The average VMT per person in the US has remained stagnant or declined since 2004, and even the Federal Highway Administration’s most recent projections predict future driving levels to remain fairly even. However, the US decline in driving may have begun far earlier than we think. For many states, like Washington, their peak driving levels may have occurred as early as the 1990s. Only a couple outlier states have had their driving levels increase in recent years. This information challenges earlier notions that declines in driving may have been caused by the poor economy, and further cements the possibility that our peak driving levels are permanent.

As more of the world population moves into cities, where car ownership and driving are less practical than public transit, options for shared mobility are becoming increasingly popular. The car share service Car2Go is subscribed to by almost 10% of Seattle’s population and  has resulted in over 2,000 Seattle residents giving up their cars. Google continues to improve its self-driving car, and recently has been in talks with Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagon to try to bring the cars to the market as early as 2020.

Some think that driverless cars will have trouble becoming widely adopted because most people have a passion for driving. Cars, in addition to being a convenient means of transportation, are also objects that reflect our personal taste and identity. While that may be true, driving can actually cause quite a bit of stress and commutes can lower happiness levels. Driving seems to be correlated to higher blood pressure and anxiety levels, as well as a decrease in overall job and life satisfaction. In fact, not having to commute may be the happiness equivalent of as much as a $40,000 raise.

Knowing that, promoting shared mobility seems like a no-brainer. Creating our car-centric cities has failed to create lasting economic growth. This is our opportunity to create smarter mobility for more sustainable, inclusive cities as well as improve overall quality of life.

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