But … as of 2005, only 4.7 percent of American workers took mass transit to work. So even a 10% surge in mass transit ridership would take only around half a percent of drivers off the road.
The point isn’t that nothing can be done — it’s just that serious reductions in driving would require a lot of long-term rearrangement of the way we live. It will come — but not quickly.
More on comparisons between, US, Canada and Europe,
What’s more, as far as I can make out from the data, a lot more Canadians than Americans (as a percentage of the population) have switched to public transit over the past year; because the system is there, they have more flexibility.
All in all, this comparison is a reason not to believe apocalyptic warnings about the long-run effects of energy scarcity: there’s a lot of substitution possible. America’s main problem is that we have a capital stock — cars, public infrastructure, and housing — designed for dirt-cheap oil. And the transition may be nasty.