Throwing Cold Water on One Man’s Notions About Car Pools

Richard Ribner’s Commentary would be a good example of “jargon” in a journalism class. The man writes a thousand words and doesn’t say anything except we need to change our attitudes.

In the first place, he starts out with a fixed premise. Once you assume something is so, then there is no need to validate it, and Richard Ribner does not. Secondly, even if he is right, and there is considerable doubt in my mind that he is, he just expands on the fact that the problem exists with no suggestions on how to cure it.

All of the mass-transportation proponents or car-pooling proponents ignore one major problem (probably because it shoots down their whole idea). That is, Southern California, especially Orange County, does not have the density of population in either the work areas or living areas to support car pooling. I mention mass transportation because the same problem affects both. If there was any way for mass transportation to work, we wouldn’t need to worry about car pooling.

In most major cities, the people live in two-story, two-family houses, as a minimum, or four-story flats or high-rise apartments. Most of the work areas are concentrated. The Chicago loop has probably a million people working in a four-square-mile area. The closest thing we have to that in Orange County is the Irvine industrial area, which consists of one- and two-story buildings and probably has 100,000 people working in a 20-square-mile area. Hughes sits on a hill by itself in Fullerton. Douglas sits in a strawberry field in Huntington Beach or basically by itself in Long Beach, ad infinitum.


I worked as a consultant in aerospace for many years. Because of that, I worked all over Southern California and was always interested in car pooling. In all those years, I never found anyone in my neighborhood who even worked in the same direction, much less had the same hours.

Mr. Ribner makes an issue out of Orange County. He mentions the high-income rate. That should tell him something. Orange County has a much higher rate of professional people who do not punch a time clock. They are called upon to work overtime with no prior notice. They are required to take clients to lunch. If you work in a high-rise in Chicago, you have dozens of restaurants within walking distance. If you work in that strawberry field in Huntington Beach, you don’t have a restaurant within five miles. I was also called upon to go to vendors, other plants, etc., all impossible without a car.

Mr. Ribner may be right, but neither he nor any other car-pool advocate I have read has addressed this problem or even mentioned it. If they enforce car pooling, I would have to drive all over Orange County to find someone to pool with. This would probably put me on the road longer and farther than if I just drove to work.

The sad thing about all this is that we have, and are, driving the major corporations out of California with all our regulations. If they enforce car pooling, they will force the rest of them out. I guess that is one way to get cars off the road.