As we each continue our ever-expansive search for more ways to move from ownership to access in our shareable lives, transportation rears its head time and again. Data suggests that owning a car -- at least for the generations coming up -- is less appealing than to generations past. Researchers have found that securing connectivity via smart phones actually takes a place of higher prominence in the lives of young people than does securing a driver's license and vehicle. That's a huge and much-needed paradigm shift for Western societies.
Because biking, walking, and public transit are not always options, a multi-modal approach to personal transportation is likely the key, especially as more and more cities reconfigure their infrastructures with the easeful movement of their citizenry in mind. The folks at Carpooling.com see ridesharing as a natural component of the multi-modal transportation package, and perhaps rightly so considering that the planet already hosts about one billion cars.
There's a lot to gain by sharing rides. Americans take 411 billion car trips a year. An estimated 80% of the seats in those cars trips are empty. The waste from unnecessary traffic that results from this is massive. According the U.S. Department of Transportation, "the nation's urban congestion problem resulted in 4.2 billion hours of travel delay, 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel, and a net urban congestion cost of nearly $80 billion".
It's about time we put some butts in those seats.