Washington DC - William Ford Jr., CEO of the Ford Motor Company
testified beforeCongress about the nationwide problem of ride sharing.
Ford cited ride swapping as the number one reason for the the company's
declining revenue. "These 'pool pirates are depriving Ford of
rightful income. Three sometimes four people are sharing rides. Less
wear and tear on the cars means fewer new car purchases. That's revenue
that's being robbed from Ford."
A recent study by the Gartner Group supports Ford's claims that
ride sharing runs rampant across the US. The study showed showed
that children under the age of 16 were the biggest offenders. Almost
99% of children in that age group said they had shared a ride in
the past week. The study also showed that ride sharing had spread
to the Internet in the form of "Car Pool" message boards
where the "Road Robbers" set up their swaps.
Many Representatives questioned Ford's claim that consumers used
ride sharing to put off purchases of new cars for 3 or even 4 years. "You're
telling me that people don't receive new cars as gifts from lobbyists
every year? I find that allegation preposterous," asked a Representative
After testimony was completed Representatives from Michigan introduced
the Driving Solo Enforcement Act of 2002, which aims to curb ride
sharing activities by making it illegal to have more than one person
in a car at a time. The bill also attempts to stop government support
of this activity by closing down car pool lanes. Persons caught sharing
rides would be subject to a $2500 and up to 1 year in prison.
Other witnesses before the Transportation Committee testified that
people, often foreigners, were selling rides on the street in cars
called "taxis". They shared stories of how they paint their
cars yellow and cruise the streets looking for potential ride sharers.
"Mr. Ford needs to wake up and smell the coffee," said
Frank Wallace, an opponent of the bill. "I haven't bought a
new car in 6 years! I ride with my friends, I ride with my parents.
Sometimes I even walk to work. If they pass this law people are still
gonna share rides. They may have to hide in the trunk, but they're
still gonna do it."
Many soccer moms are worried by what this legislation may do to
their hectic schedules. "It might be a bit inconvenient, but
I guess I'll just have to let little Johnny drive the mini-van to
soccer practice by himself," said Melissa Garrett of Concord,
New Hampshire. "He can touch the pedals by himself now and I
don't want to break any laws."
Exxon Mobil and the Asphalt Workers of America also testified on
the importance of stopping ride swapping.
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