If there is any source of our carbon footprint that receives the most notoriety, cars take the cake. Their widespread use, demand for fossil fuels and cultural popularity make them one of the most prominent pollutants, especially when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite the revitalization of communal transportation — trolleys, light rails, trains and ridesharing — automobiles seem to be a part of life that we can’t shake off, no matter what damage they cause to us. Perhaps if there was a better motivation — aside from environmental protection, lesser risks of vehicular mortality and maintenance costs — that could attract drivers to ditch the auto for good. Why not a buyback program?
A buyback program for automobiles could still promise the freedom of movement as well as curb the environmental damage automobiles do. In return for discounted or free (taxpayer-supported) public transportation, a buyback program could recycle the metal and materials from automobiles for better uses. Not to mention, rideshare programs such as Uber or Lyft allow more personalized routes and schedules than normal public transportation, thus maintaining more flexible travel options.
While a buyback program seems attractive, it’s not without its challenges. Personal vehicles do provide many luxuries as well as convenience. For instance, rideshare programs still cost money, and investing in their expansion in a world with less personal vehicles would cost millions. Complications regarding feasibility, flexibility and public desire to use these modes of transportation won’t cease even with adequate funding.
If we are collectively willing to give up our automotive habit, we could potentially eliminate a large source of fossil fuel use as well as free up the resources that currently go into automotive maintenance. Public transportation is the way of the future, no matter what the adverts try to tell you. So get your bus passes, download Lyft or Uber, and head where you want — and if all else fails, your feet or bike will do.