"But how could it be possibly be sustainable for users to constantly pay another human to drive them around at a price that is still cheaper than owning a car, particularly in cities and suburbs that aren’t exactly dense?"
Idk it doesn't seem crazy? I mean obviously driverless cars are an answer, but even ignoring that, like:
1. Car costs $25k
2. Car has 5-year useful life
3. Car costs $5k/year
4. Parking, insurance, blah blah costs $2k/year
5. Driver gets paid $50k/year
6. All-in cost of ownership is $7k/year
7. All-in cost of Uber is $57k/year
8. If an Uber can replace 9 private cars it makes money.
Certainly that works better in dense not-so-drivey cities than it does in exurbs where everyone commutes 45 minutes at the same times. But it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility at least at some scale. I don't pretend to any science in these numbers but just being like "ahhhh nothing can ever replace car ownership" seems like a weird reaction. There is some margin where labor can be a low-cost substitute for capital.
Update: No, I promise, I really don't pretend to any science in those numbers. You can change them! It's okay.