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Are private cars the ideal transport?

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  • Eric Britton
    On Behalf Of Theo Schmidt Sent: Tuesday, 9 September 2008 13:19 ... I don t know about the second, would have thought the reverse, but the first is certainly
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 9, 2008

      On Behalf Of Theo Schmidt
      Sent: Tuesday, 9 September 2008 13:19


      Chris Bradshaw wrote:

      > Private cars both cause the breakdown of
      > share vehicle systems, and are the beneficiaries of that breakdown...

      I don't know about the second, would have thought the reverse, but the
      first is certainly true. It's plain human nature.

      Years ago I lived in a tiny village, Evershot in Dorset. This had a
      well-stocked village shop with post office which lots of villagers
      visited every single day or several times a day, being only some seconds
      walk from most houses. But it had a lousy bus service, only about one or
      two a day, and steep hills for cycling.

      An ideal place to put up the pinboard of the "Evershot Transport Club",
      which I founded. Using pins and notes, people where supposed to put up
      small notices if they required a ride or could offer rides in cars. In
      addition I sent forms for regular trips to every single villager.

      It was an utter and dismal failure. Not a *single* shared trip resulted
      even though everybody thought the club was a good idea. I myself, who
      had a car at the time, was unable to share or get a single trip. People
      - in our culture anyway - simply don't want to share if there is the
      *slightest* inconvenience. When you offer a trip, even if your passenger
      pays you, you have the cost of not being able to cancel your trip at
      short notice, of having to share with a perhaps unpleasant person, etc.
      These costs are immediate, whereas the costs of operating a car are
      indirect and in arrears.

      Much more advanced share-systems in Switzerland years later, using
      internet, membership and vetting schemes and special stopping places,
      all also failed. (What does work is time-slot exclusive sharing of

      There is a parallel in the world of free software, which is public
      shared software, and even free content. This is overall much better than
      private ("proprietary") software, which is usually also overpriced, yet
      I bet that 90% of the intelligent people on this list use e.g. Microsoft
      and Apple thingies. The cost of the small inconveniences associated with
      free software (e.g. lots of choice) is higher than the few hundreds for
      the commercial "private" solution. You get what you pay for, you don't
      have to share, you can blame the manufacturer when it doesn't work.

      Without special tricks. it is a lot more difficult to give away
      something people don't want or know, like free knowledge or free trips,
      than sell something they *think* they need, like certain fads or brand
      name items - or cars.

      Therefore psychologically private cars *are* the ideal transport - in
      rural areas and for the able anyway - even if we all agree that present
      day cars cost far too much: resources, space, health, even life.

      Theo Schmidt


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