January 9, 2016

Is Silicon Valley the new Rust Belt?

Forward from Thomas Beyer:

Below is an intersting article on the future of cars and clustering in Silicon Valley.


My take is: Interesting.

e-cars, hybrids and hydrogen cars will grow significantly in market share, and soon, self driving vehicles enabling both the elderly as well as those less than 18 year old to be driven around. The future of the individual, or shared, vehicle is ensured. Do not believe all the public transit fanatics or Uber-haters (that we see here in MetroVan) that only bigger government with more $s for public transit will alleviate traffic jams.

My take is that we are seeing an evolution of transportation, where once, the medley of animals and modes of more pedestrian forms of transit became a monoculture of automobilia, we are now seeing a search for greater specificity and nuance in transportation needs – few are only X people, and few only need Y vehicle … just like we all have a computer, a tablet, a phone, and a music device, it makes sense that we might want different modes of transit as the needs of the day saw fit.

I know many people who own cars but still use Car2Go because occasionally that one-way-trip ability is useful. I have helped at least one friend with an SUV moving house by renting a ZipVan for 2 hours to help him out with the big things – and saved much $$ over renting one for the day. When the skytrains or seabus has failed, I’ve been able to change modes to get an EVO … and I would have been well suited this morning to having a MODO membership when I went snowshoeing.

There is much to be said for redundancy in transportation alternatives – some days your car won’t start, and its nice that you had an alternative, even if you lived in outer Surrey, for instance. At the moment, for many, there are no options, there is one option, and that leaves little room for a plan B.

(this logic extends to not having all ones economic eggs in one basket too … and why its nice to see that even Alberta wants to diversify)

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  1. It can make you wonder if spending billions on transit infrastructure is the right thing to do. It may be that a disruptive technology like cheap self-driving cars makes our investments obsolete.
    A logical step is to legalize Uber and buy out the taxi cartels for their lost oligarchy (which they paid good money for).
    Sometimes it seems folks on the left don’t want a solution to social ills that comes from the marketplace…and they try to stop it or slander it, or portray kinks and growing pains as root problems with the idea.
    For example: http://www.salon.com/2015/02/01/the_sharing_economy_is_a_lie_uber_ayn_rand_and_the_truth_about_tech_and_libertarians/

  2. GM invests heavily in Uber competitor Lyft: http://m.thestar.com/#/article/business/2016/01/04/gm-hails-lyft-with-500m-deal-to-develop-network-for-self-driving-cars.html
    The future of car sharing, ride sharing and self driving vehicles will allow many new options, and many new users, specifically the disabled, the elderly and the young. Public transit especially if rapid will play a major role but so will individually owned vehicles.
    ==> People want freedom of movement and freedom of self expression incl choice of quality & speed of the ride that a one size fits all public transit cannot provide !
    The new rust belt is the old rust belt – excl Silicon Valley which is a brain belt and here to stay.
    E-cars are simpler to assemble than gasoline powered or hybrids. Unionized workers at GM, Ford or Chrysler need to worry more than software engineers ( I used to be one btw before I switched to rental properties in the early 2000’s)

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