Lyft announced yesterday that they will begin service to the rural outback in 40 US states. This is what I was hoping for when we moved to Jefferson. It happened far quicker than I thought it would.
Car sharing is the future. Companies like Ford have embraced it as they’ve run out of creative ways to get people into their ever more expensive products. Some people see it. Many don’t. More still don’t want to see it. It messes with their worldview. But more and more people are either accepting or embracing the fact that even if they can afford their own car that maybe it doesn’t make sense to allocate scarce resources there. It’s not just young people, either. Yeah, they led but others are following.
So what does this transportation future look like? Well, Ford has also embraced electric bikes, Their vision is that more of us will use bicycles for trips close to home and share a car for longer trips. All of our transportation needs will be met and at a fraction of the cost of owning a motor vehicle. I’ve done the math here before. The average car costs the average person $9,000 to own and operate. You can get a high quality electric bicycle now for $2,000 or less and it will last for years. If you don’t need the motor, it’s cheaper still. That leaves a lot of extra money for Lyft and other types of transportation, or you can spend it on something else…or even save it.
Lyft in rural America is a huge game changer and not just for Jan and me. Many of these small towns offer an insanely great quality of life. They’re less expensive than the big city. There’s very little traffic. The air is clean and crime is isolated. In states like Iowa, most people I speak with who have migrated to the big city tell me that they would come back to the small towns of their youth in a heartbeat if only there was economic opportunity here. Interestingly enough, it’s not so much an economic problem as it is a transportation problem. Small towns have always been tethered to reliable transportation.
But the times they are a changing. As global companies shutter manufacturing facilities, many of these places have become job creators out of necessity. It’s an old lament that the new jobs don’t pay like the old ones and it’s true in a lot of cases, so the way you make it work is to cut costs…like learning to live on one car instead of two. The availability of low cost ride sharing changes the economics of these towns. It makes it possible for some of those folks who left to come home and live the good life. It gives us another edge and I have no doubt we will leverage it. Bikes and car sharing are the future. Thanks to Lyft, that future has arrived in small town America.