It looks like the pendulum of automotive excess is starting to swing back toward smaller, more efficient cars. The Washington Post notes that “SUV sales have dropped by up to half”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/03/AR2005100301657.html this year over last, while small car sales have gone up, probably due to higher gas prices. Predictably, Detroit got caught with its pants down because it doesn’t have any efficient cars (read: hybrids) to offer. Too bad they didn’t pay attention back when it was made plain that fuel efficiency was going to get really important Real Soon Now.
My take on this is that the gas-price tipping point has finally been reached, so it’s a great time for cities to propose transit alternatives (read: trolleys) and actually get them funded. If I ran a city, I’d make all existing transit free for the next 6 months to get ridership numbers up, then use that period to convince people that transit is worthwhile (or at least figure out why they think it isn’t) while drumming up new funds to make it even better. Of course I don’t run a city, but I hope that folks who do start to see that transit is going to get really important Real Soon Now.