Imagine your city like a toolbox - a toolbox containing many different transportation options. Open it up and access reliable, consistent public transit, a car-share vehicle on every street, extensive cycling infrastructure and bike-sharing, ride-sharing apps to connect with empty seats in cars going your way, safe, well-lit walking paths, and, yes, even your own car if you need one.
In such a scenario, you might use multiple tools in a single day. Choosing the right tool for the job, you'd move easily and cost-effectively through the region, using your smart phone to connect you with each mode. The system as a whole would run smoothly, predictably and efficiently - with less congestion. But central to that toolbox is a robust transit system. Without it, the toolbox is incomplete and trying to move through the region becomes as daunting a task as trying to construct an IKEA bookshelf without an Allen key.
A strong, reliable public transit system makes other methods of transportation more viable and appealing. When you can rely on transit for your daily commute, you no longer have to worry about braving traffic or paying for all-day parking. You then start to look for more efficiencies in how you tackle other types of trips, like going to the market or taking your mom for lunch or going to Grouse or to Portland. This is where car-sharing can suddenly seem like magic because you can now do everything you need and love to do, but without the expense and hassle of owning a car, or a second car.
Having access to a transportation toolbox saves money on parking, maintenance, repairs and owning a depreciating asset. It improves your quality of life - everyone's actually - as the whole system works together as an elegant, integrated machine, region-wide - from the suburban outposts to the heart of the urban core.
While today, life in the suburbs is synonymous with car ownership, the Mayors' Council's proposed investment in transit expansion would offer many families the opportunity to re-examine their personal transportation strategy. They might consider using public transit, active modes and car-sharing to replace or supplement the family car. But without that investment, they will increasingly be reliant on car ownership.
Gone are the days of silver bullet solutions. A personal car is great for many situations, but not for every trip; there are better tools available. The upcoming transit referendum is offering all of us an opportunity to vote for a better toolbox, one that includes car-sharing, bike-sharing, ride-sharing and a host of other innovative new modes we've yet to dream up. A transportation toolbox that is faster, cheaper, healthier and altogether more pleasant than the alternative. And for that, I vote "Yes!"
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