With more options for transportation, could it be time to ditch the personal car completely?
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have created a new tool to help people make that call. It’s called Ride or Drive, and it calculates the cost of car ownership versus relying on transportation networking companies like your Lyfts and Ubers.
Dr. Todd Davidson, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute and the co-creator of the Ride or Drive web tool, says they built the online calculator so people could evaluate their own personal situations.
“I’m certainly not advocating getting rid of personal car ownership,” Davidson says. “Personal cars have basically revolutionized the world over the past hundred years, given us incredible mobility and freedom.”
Could it be more cost-effective, though, to rely on Uber?
“That’s the crux of the work,” he says. “Trying to compare the costs between owning a personal car and using transportation services.”
Davidson says there are costs to owning a car that aren’t always obvious. “Maybe the most important one is the value of your time,” he says. “All of us, in driving our personal cars, we’re basically making a commitment that we’re going to sit behind the wheel for a certain amount of time.”
Davidson says that prices of services like Uber or Lyft could drop dramatically once driverless cars are introduced.
“It will likely take multiple generations of cars, if you will – and the average car is owned for about seven years – to have a significant penetration of automated vehicles on the road,” he says. “So we’re still talking pretty far out in terms of automated vehicles.”
Davidson says it’s possible that the entire economy could become more efficient through different transportation uses.
Written by Jen Rice.