October 22nd, 2001 Magplane: See the usa in Your Chevrolet

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October 22nd, 2001

Magplane: See the USA in Your Chevrolet

There are times when there is no mode alternative to the automobile. Whether you need to transport children, groceries or even to move furniture from one residence to another. In such dense city neighborhoods like New York, Paris, London and even Montreal, a car is still a much more convenient way to travel for certain trip purposes.

In today’s brief article, readers will become acquainted with the growing market need for flexible for-hire automobiles. These are automobiles that are shared among a group of people belonging to a Flex-Car program. While not quite a car rental agency or a taxi service, pre-approved members pay a user fee for the use of an automobile and the charge is based on elapsed time and distance traveled.

Described in the attached article that appeared in the October 1st, edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligence, the Car Share program is similar to ones that will soon be in place in Washington D.C. and those in Boston, Montreal and Paris.

In Europe where the concept has really taken hold, it is estimated that for every vehicle in Car Share fleets, six cars are taken off the road. Providing the automobile is always available when needed, studies have determined that car ownership rates have declined.

Such car plans work best in high density urban centers where the majority of every-day urban activities are accessible by modes of transport other than the automobile. When certain trip destinations and purposes that require automobile transport occur less frequently, the necessity of car ownership declines.

For those of you who remember the Dinah Shore show of the 1950’s, General Motors promoted car ownership by luring motorists to “See the USA in Your Chevrolet”. Aimed primarily at weekend and holiday motorists, the vast majority of Americans lived in high-density urban centers where automobile access to workplaces was often less convenient than using public transport. Whether the barrier were bottlenecks or a lack of employee parking, it was usually easier to hop onto a bus or a subway car.

The tide of course began turning in the 1950’s when new subdivisions dispersing populations in far-flung suburbs began appearing where mass transit systems were never economically viable. By the late 1960’s, when work places began following the migration into the suburbs, both the trip origin and destination were within very dispersed urban settlement patterns. By then, Chevrolet no longer needed Dinah Shore to urge Americans to buy a car, the need for auto commuting was already sufficiently engrained to assure a continuing demand for automobiles.

We at Magplane recognize that the Interactive Megalopolis will be characterized by a series of linked magports along a vast Magplane network and that these magports will center and attract urban development patterns with densities ranging from very high to even low in traditional suburban stations. For those new urban development land parcels that will become dependent on the Magplane Commuter Service to access urban markets beyond the metropolis to the Interactive Megalopolis, the people who will actually work or live in these centers, will on occasion require an automobile. As a result, we at Magplane see a significant role for these Car Share programs in the future. Perhaps again, the marketers of the Chevrolet or the Toyota, will resort to promoting car sales for trip purposes other than the traditional home to work-place commuting trip.

The Zipcar in Boston.

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