Mike's Minute: People love cars, not public transport

Author
Mike Hosking,
Section
Video,
Publish Date
Friday, 12 April 2019, 7:45a.m.

COMMENT:

More from our theory vs reality file: This time on car ownership.

Half a dozen to 10 years ago it was surmised in the United States that the car was dying - based on numbers that seemed to suggest that millennials weren't buying them the way they used to.

The assumption being, they'd taken on board all the new messaging around saving the planet, not using fossil fuels by using public transport, e-scooters, skateboarding etc. The Lyft founder predicted the end of the car and the rise of the ride share.

But in their assumption was the danger of ideology. And this is why Auckland, for example, is the most congested city in Australasia.

Despite all their efforts: the petrol tax, the cost of parking the cycle lanes. Despite all the efforts internationally (most notably the EU) on emissions, on the banning of combustion engines. Despite London Mayor Sadiq Kahn's new congestion tax that just came in yesterday. Despite all that raiding of the pocket trying to price us out of cars. It's been an abject failure.

And the clue came from the millennials in America. The car ownership figures started to rise again. And they could not work out why - why had their prediction not been accurate?

Well, turns out, none of the messaging and new age buzz -wording had anything to do with it. Millennials had worked out what my kids had worked out. Of our five kids, four have cars.

Four have cars and drive ridiculously short distances in them. Why don't they catch the bus or the train? Because, they say, the system doesn't work. The buses don't arrive, and if they do they're late or early. The trains don't go where you want them to go, when you want to go. Nothing but nothing beats the convenience of the car.

And this is what they found in America. Not just ownership rising, but miles covered rising as well. Vast swathes of America aren't covered by any major sort of public transport.

Lives in this country are geographically sparse, they're inter-suburb. Kids and sport, kids and the school run, friends across town. None of it is conducive to us doing without cars.

And so we are happy enough to be in the most congested city in Australasia, as indeed they are in Sydney and Melbourne who on the chart are barely behind Auckalnd anyway. We are all basically as congested as each other

And why? Convenience. As to Amercia and the millenials: why had the numbers dropped then surged again? Debt. Debt from the GFC is the only reason.

The only time people will go without a car is when they literally can't afford one. The moment they can, they're in them. The researchers, the futurists, the virtue signallers were seeing what they wanted to see, not the reality.

We love cars, always have and short of being broke, always will.