I am moving from New York to Providence today – at least, I’m moving most of my stuff. (I’m going to stay in New York for a few weeks longer.) And not only is it going to be by car, but also the car rental itinerary is such that as many trips as possible will be done by car and not by bus.
The reason, obviously, is not a personal preference for driving. It’s that, even in New York, many trips are more convenient by car than on transit, and the reason transit maintains a reasonable mode share is that the trips are still doable by transit, so people don’t get cars just for them. I’m not going to get a car just for airport travel, but if I already have a car for another reason, I’m going to use it for picking up a friend who’s arriving and helping me move. (In one direction only – she can drive, I can’t.)
The lesson here for transit planners is that they need to make it easy to live without a car, and not just to provide service for the few trips cars can’t do. Moving 300 kilometers by transit is possible, but too cumbersome and expensive. Within urban areas one can do better with taxis and car-sharing, which is why Cap’n Transit has been writing a series about good taxi service and why the Urbanophile has syndicated an article about taxis as public transportation.