The End of the Car Culture and the Reemergence of Public Transportation
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The United States, which has been the poster child for car culture, has been warned of the unparalleled prospect of trillion-dollar deficits for years to come. Most state governments face severe reduction in tax monies, which will mean fewer funds for road and bridge repair, as well as reductions in other services. Personal debt is very high and home values have declined sharply, reducing the _nest egg of many families for retirement. In addition, the stock market decline has had deleterious effects on retirement funds. The car culture was built on cheap fuel, financing of car purchases, and a convenient national system of mostly free roads connecting nearly all parts of the United States. Personal transportation with cars has been the norm. Petroleum prices are down dramatically at the end of 2008, but people are driving less to pay off personal debt or because they have lost their jobs. Electric cars seemed promising until problems with coal-generated electricity became more generally known. In short, the car culture has passed a tipping point and alternative public transportation is not adequate for probable future needs. One characteristic of passing a tipping point is that return to the pre-tipping point conditions is very unlikely.