Eric Spiegelman grew up in a six-car family in the San Fernando Valley and has lived in Los Angeles for the majority of his life. At the end of May, he let the lease on his Volkswagen CC expire, opting to live car-free in a city synonymous with car culture. For the past three months, he’s been commuting to and from work exclusively via Uber and Lyft — mostly using Pool and Line, cheaper options that allow passengers to share trips with other riders on similar routes.
“It ran so contrary to the culture that I’d been brought up in, and also my sense of what was doable,” Spiegelman, 39, told BuzzFeed News. “It was the most unnatural feeling thing at first. But it was so freeing.”
An understandable sentiment — after all, Spiegelman is president of the LA Taxicab Commission.
Spiegelman had been studying the economics of riding Uber and Lyft versus a taxi or driving a personal vehicle when he decided to run the math for his own car. He made a spreadsheet outlining the cost of leasing his Volkswagen: $458 monthly for the lease itself, $158 for insurance, $70 for gas, and at least $72 for parking, for a total cost of about $758. Based on those calculations, he said he has saved more than $1,100 in the last three months, spending an average of $3.42 for each UberPool or Lyft Line ride to work in August.
Ride-hail companies are betting that in the future — particularly after the introduction of self-driving cars — owning a car will become a thing of the past. LA, a city long known for car dependency, sprawl, and gridlock, has become a proving ground for this shift. More than a half-dozen Angelenos told BuzzFeed News they have ditched their cars recently and instead rely on Uber, Lyft, public transportation, bikes, and, for longer trips, ZipCar, Turo or similar services. And they’re part of a growing movement that’s slowly reshaping the Autopia that is LA.