Those of us working in transport know that, despite what the public feel, the real cost of motoring is really much lower than it used to be. The Guardian today have an analysis of what fuel really costs, which shows this pretty clearly (and fuel is only one part of the falling cost).
If, like me, your memory extends back as far as the 1970s, you should know all this to be true. Look at car ownership and use prior to... ooh, let's say 1987: a typical person owned a second-hand car and used it fairly infrequently, and the cost was a major factor in this behavioural pattern. Today the same typical person has a brand new black pickup truck and uses it to go everywhere. (Okay, I know not everybody has a black pickup truck, but it does sometimes feel that way. I can't express how much I loathe those ridiculous Nissan and Mitsubishi pickup trucks and the morons who buy them.)*
Sure, part of this is the greater availability of credit, but still: go back 20 years and there was no way the average British working person could have afforded to drive in the manner they do now. And what's the cost of public transport done whilst the cost of motoring has fallen? Yes, you've guessed it...
* Edit: Is anybody else annoyed by the names these moronmobiles have? What sort of inadequate feels the need to drive a vehicle with 'Warrior' or 'Outlaw' slapped on the side? My suggestion: everybody who drives round with 'Warrior' written on their vehicle should be pressed into the army and sent off to Afghanistan, everybody with 'Outlaw' can be lynched and everybody with 'Animal' gets sent to a zoo.