Public Transit Use Highest Since 1956 And That's A Good Thing

This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:30 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?

1st Gear: If You Love Cars You Should Love Public Transit

Public Transit Use Highest Since 1956 And That's A Good Thing

It may seem contradictory, but it's been a longstanding view at Jalopnik that an increase in public transit usage is a good thing for car culture. Why?

You can read this piece to see our view of commuting culture vs. car culture, but the TL;DR version is that sitting in traffic all day in a boring midsizer is not car culture and does not make you love cars.

Commuting culture has left us with long, overcrowded interstates that are not fun to drive. It has left us with congestion and the Toyota Prius and a generation of people who could be forgiven for not seeing the appeal of cars.

The solution? More people who don't want to be driving anyways should be on trains and buses, which are more efficient and allow them to play Candy Crush without risking crashing into one of us. It also opens up the roads for us. It's also, net, better for the environment, and lowers demand on oil.

It's also a good idea to take public transit if you're an enthusiast. As we've said before, a commuting vehicle has to be reliable and probably efficient. Rather than spend all your money on a car that does everything, have more fun and help the environment by training/busing/walking/biking during the week and pour the money and greenhouse gasses you save in an old Porsche (or Baja Bug) on the weekend.

Why do I bring this up?

Public transit usage in 2013 was up to nearly 10.7 billion trips, the most since 1956. Was this all in NYC and Chicago? Nope, places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Miami, and Denver all showed big gains.

And that's a good thing.

2nd Gear: Chinese Auto Sales Up As Market Gets More Sophisticated

Public Transit Use Highest Since 1956 And That's A Good Thing

Chinese cars, even ones built through partnerships, have never been known as being cutting edge. The country was viewed for years as a developing one, with developing tastes. No more.

The Chinese auto market is the largest and the world and sales were up 11.3% over the first two months of the year, but that's not good for everyone.

As the AP reports, Chinese customers want more and a new, relatively tech-y Ford seems like a better option than a thrice rebadged 25-year-old Volkswagen.

Japanese automakers also had a nice month as consumer decided they cared more about getting a good deal than a fight over a few islands they'll never go to.

3rd Gear: Why You May Never Be Able To Sue GM

Public Transit Use Highest Since 1956 And That's A Good Thing

Victim of the Cobalt/G5/Solstice recall? Yeah, you might be SOL when it comes to suing GM.

We've already detailed how bad this is, but the WSJ points out that GM may be free from litigation because under the terms of their bankruptcy they're off the hook for anything that happens before the bankruptcy sale in 2009.

However, if you got into an accident after that point you can definitely join a massive class action lawsuit that I'm sure is dancing around in some lawyer's head.

4th Gear: Hybrids To Be 20% Of The Market Soon, Says Toyota

Public Transit Use Highest Since 1956 And That's A Good Thing

Toyota's global Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada sees the market for hybrids expanding, with as much as 20% of the market using a form of hybrid technology "soon."

Where's what he told Automotive News:

The father of the original Toyota Prius has high expectations for the segment he helped create. "I foresee hybrid models pretty soon reaching 20 percent of global sales from about 13 percent to 14 percent now," Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told Automotive News Europe.

The hold up? Diesels in Europe, which still generally cost less and can be just as efficient..

5th Gear: Copper Demand Way Down

Public Transit Use Highest Since 1956 And That's A Good Thing

You may not have been paying attention lately, but copper continues to tank as people are going wireless with their tech and using other metals like aluminum for housing materials.

I mention this, because as Bloomberg reports, the one bright spot for copper producers is the auto market, which still relies on the metal and is seeing growth.

Tie it all together? Sure, copper use for autos in China may also be a place for producers to expand.

Reverse: Flash Of Genius

Robert Kearns, who patented a design for a type of windshield wiper and later won multi-million dollar judgments against Chrysler and Ford for using his concept without permission, is born on March 10, 1927, in Gary, Indiana. Kearns' invention, the intermittent windshield wiper, enabled wipers to move at timed intervals, rather than constantly swiping back and forth. Intermittent wipers aided drivers in light rain or mist and today are a standard feature of most cars. Kearns' real-life David versus Goliath story about taking on the auto giants was made into a movie titled "Flash of Genius" that opened in 2008 and starred Greg Kinnear.

[HISTORY]

Neutral: Do You Take Public Transit?

I do! I also drive cars frequently and may or may not be buying a weekend race car with other public transit takers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images