Where Rich People Don’t Own Cars

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What will the Green New Deal mean for this automobile enthusiast? Nobody owns more cars than Americans do. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation , there were 248 million light-duty vehicles on the roads in 2016, or about 0.77 cars per person. For most of the postwar era, it was clear that car ownership signified status. Now things are a little more complicated: In many cities, walkable and transit-accessible real estate commands prices so high that not driving has become a privilege. For the first time, high-income young people drive less than low-income young people. Uber, Lyft, and smartphones have stripped the friction from carless life. So does income still determine car ownership in this country? Or is car ownership beginning to more closely conform to population density, according to the famous prediction of former Bogotá, Colombia, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, in which “a developed country is one in which the rich use public transportation”? The answer is, naturally, that it depends where you live. A few weeks ago, I asked Trulia chief economist Issi Romem if he could plot American car ownership at the local level. On Thursday, he published a dataset that shows “persons per vehicle” by […]

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