Would solar-charged cars hurt public transportation?

As I sat in another Denver area traffic jam on my way to work this morning – and two kids in tow, whom I was dropping off at the St. Mary’s German Kindergarten where they hone their German skills – I suddenly began thinking about something I’d never considered before:

This is a total fantasy, I know, but what if we were living in a world in which solar-charged driving had entered the mainstream consciousness in a big way and millions of people around the U.S., and around the world, were driving EVs partially or fully charged by electricity generated via solar panels on their home’s roof – how might this affect public transportation ridership?

I was thinking in this vein because a light-rail line runs directly next to Denver’s outrageously over-taxed I-25.

A significant number of people take the light rail: a) to save on gas costs; b) for environmental reasons.

But what if one could drive a car and not produce any emissions whatsoever – would the “greenies” now riding the light rail ditch it in favor of a solar-charged EV?

Could very green cars such as solar-charged EV, which allows people to drive emissions free and to fuel their car potentially for free, undermine public transportation, perhaps severely?

The answer is largely dependent on the reasons most people use public transportation. For instance, my wife takes the light rail to downtown Denver mostly because it allows her to avoid the stress and headache of sitting in rush-hour traffic.

Yes, despite a more than a billion dollar investment to widen I-25 near the infamous Denver Tech Center, traffic regularly grinds to a complete standstill during peak hours. So much for the rosy – and inaccurate — stories in The Denver Post a few years ago about how T-Rex had radically improved traffic flow in this corridor!

Whether you’re solar-charging your EV and driving a completely emissions-free vehicle or not, you’ll sit in traffic (but enjoy cleaner air while you sit!).

If most people on the Denver light rail are trying to avoid the ridiculousness of American rush-hour traffic, an ant-hill like phenomenon that costs us billions in wasted work hours, then even if solar-charged, totally emissions free driving became the norm, I think public transportation would be OK.

However, if a significant number of riders are on the light rail only for green reasons, solar-charged driving could in fact undercut public transportation forms such as the Denver light-rail.

Of course, in the end, solar-charged EV or not, personally, I’d still prefer to cover my 20-mile roundtrip commute on a bike.