I met with a group than ran parking for a major university and gave a spiel on how easy it would be to sell the concept of carpooling. To wit:

If you took just a portion of the billion plus a mile being spent on rapid transit construction in Los Angeles and invested it in a ‘find a carpool app’ and then promoted the heck out of it, using all devices known to advertising agencies, perhaps 20% of the commuters traveling in single vehicles would double up. That would reduce rush hours to nil, rid of us of congestion, lower emissions, and all would be right with the world.

I was met by a violent pushback. I was told in no uncertain terms that such a plan would mean people would give up their freedom of movement, have ‘strangers’ in their private cars, and basically destroy the world as we know it.

Granted I was in the mid-west and not on one of our coasts, but wow.

Not to be slowed, I pressed on.

This was a purely voluntary program, I said. The beauty was that if you wanted to drive your car by yourself, you could. There would be no tax breaks, no government incentives, in fact no government involvement except funding the tech and marketing program.

I was told that bad people could end up in the ‘pool’ and you would be at great risk. I responded that you are at risk getting out of bed in the morning. Through the app you would be able to interview potential poolers, get referral information, and actually talk and text back and forth before you met. You could set your own criteria (get driver’s license info, address, work information, etc) before proceeding.

Yeah, right. I was told. But by joining the pool I was giving up my FREEDOM of choice and dammit, the person complaining wasn’t going to do that. Fair Enough.

I did ask for a show of hands as to how many would consider such a program and fully half said they would.

But then I got to thinking about why many people become grumpy when rapid transit and such programs are discussed. I think it really has to do with FREEDOM of movement.

It’s true that as soon as I bring someone else into my car, I now have to consider their needs as well as my own. My FREEDOM is being diluted just a bit. I can’t sleep in today because I have to pick up Charlie. Maybe I should work a bit later to finish a report for the boss, but I have to meet Charlie. Charlie doesn’t care quite as much as I do, so I have to wait for him to finish his coffee. And of course, what if I want to get in early just because.  I have to consider Charlie.

But, maybe, just maybe, there are 20% of the folks that don’t care about diluted FREEDOM and my program will work.

Its like parking at Westfield. They give you any way to pay you want. Pull a ticket, OK. Pay at a machine, OK, Pay on Exit, ok. Use an App, OK. Uber, OK, Parking Reservations, OK. Valet, OK. Rather than restricting my FREEDOM, they have provided Freedom of Choice.

Can’t the same be true in Transport. Carpool OK, Bus OK, Metro OK, Uber OK, Train OK, Private Vehicle OK. I have FREEDOM of Choice.

We don’t live in a one size fits all world. Nor should we.



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