The economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman thinks that transportation network companies (TNCs) might make "life without cars" a reality for those who live in American cities that lack great public transportation systems:
the big benefit from new IT-mediated car services [Lyft, Sidecar, UberX] will come if they make it possible for lots of people — and not just people in Manhattan — to live without owning their own cars. And if you think about it, you can see how that might work.The cost of car ownership (the insurance, the gas, the parking, the speeding tickets, the sitting around doing nothing almost all of the time) can no longer be justified in an age where wages are not rising at all or fast enough, debts keep mounting, and jobs are precarious. The decline of the automobile is inevitable not because Americans are becoming greener but poorer. As this century progresses—a century that's witnessing levels of inequality that have not existed since the 19th century—car ownership will gradually return to its older status as a luxury for the rich rather than a necessity for plebeians.
Right now, if you live in places without exceptionally good public transportation, it’s very difficult to manage without a car. Yet when you think about it, for most people owning a car is quite wasteful. It’s an expensive item of equipment that sits idle most of the time; it requires parking (and often a parking structure) both at origin and at destination; it requires maintenance and is a big hassle all around.
So reliable, quick-response chauffeur services could free many people from the need to tie up all those resources in a consumer durable that they only use now and then.