If it was up to 20th century mentality, it'd still be cars, large and in charge and powered by gasoline. Business as usual. And that's understandable. The automobile has weaved itself into the history and culture of L.A., more than possibly any other locale except, perhaps, Stuttgart, Germany. Dive into Southern California's past, and somewhere between the dismantling of the mass-transit system and the first traffic jam on the Hollywood Freeway, it's fun, fun, fun, 'til daddy takes the T-Bird away.

But in this 21st century, with hydrogen, electricity, and a renewed interest in public transit—no doubt spurred on by the crushing traffic congestion—the gasoline-swilling car is no longer the only way to get around. You know what? That's not a bad thing.

During last year's election, approved Measure M, which adds a half-cent sales tax (eventually increasing to one cent) to raise as much as $860 million per year to improve public transit. This comes on the heels of Measure R, an equal sales tax increase approved by voters in 2009. (Although a similar measure meant to quicken rail construction failed in 2012.)

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Examples abound. Metro Rail is currently developing the Crenshaw Line, which will connect the LAX airport to the rest of the 105-mile-long network. The Purple Line will connect UCLA to downtown: The Regional Connector project will conceivably allow users to ride from the beach to the foothills of Pasadena with just one transfer. Metro's Bike Share program is increasing steadily in ridership, , though it still lags behind more established programs in other cities. It's possible to visit L.A. without spending a single minute behind the wheel of a car, using options such as the brand-new Expo Line. Its Phase II finally opened in May of last year. This brand-spanking-new train will take you from the beach all the way to the skyscrapers.

Development has started on the new Metro Crenshaw Line, which will run 8.5. miles from the intersection of Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevard south and west toward LAX.
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The idea of sleek, self-driving cars may resonate with the general public, but autonomous buses are currently being tested in Beverly Hills, a transit-phobic part of Los Angeles that . "The city knew that there wouldn't be an easy way for many people to reach the subway," . "Unlike some other subway stops, neither will have a park-and-ride lot for commuters to leave cars…In the new system, driverless shuttles will come on demand to riders, via an Uber-like app, using an algorithm to pick up other riders along the most convenient route." Having been tested in Helsinki and San Francisco, self-driving buses lend themselves perfectly to the drudgeries of autonomy, slowly plying their way across preset routes, day in and day out.

And yet, with all of this eco-friendly, self-driving, ownership-free, car-sharing talk, none of this means that the automobile is dead. Especially the zero-emission vehicle—exactly the opposite, in fact.

In 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the Sustainable City Plan, which presents a future for the city, one to be fulfilled by the year 2035. Within its pages came the provision to boost the infrastructure for the registered in Los Angeles County as of April 2016, as well as the many more coming from manufacturers, such as Toyota's new Mirai and others.

Toyota Mirai

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As of this past July, there were 20 hydrogen filling stations in California. By the end of 2016, there were and nearly another 20 in development—well along the path to Governor Jerry Brown's goal of , a goal he established in 2012. Simultaneously, the Energy Commission has some lofty numbers in mind. It projects 13,500 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2019, and 43,600 vehicles by 2022.

Electric cars are also a huge part of this plan, "reducing city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2025, 60 percent by 2035 and 80 percent by 2050 and becoming the nation's first big city to achieve zero waste."

"The report sets objectives such as the increased use of electric vehicles, more reliance on solar power in the public and private sectors and better monitoring of air quality in poor neighborhoods," reports the. "It also envisions the installation of 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations in two years."

Garcetti, with the help of corporate largesse, made good on this initiative. The LAPD recently added 100 electric BMW i3s to its fleet, done up in signature black and white livery, the largest fleet of electric vehicles in any American city's fleet. A will also join the police fleet, coming after a year of LAPD testing for patrol duties. The tiny i3s will mostly be used for community outreach. But the Teslas being tested have been outfitted with radios, cages, gun racks, and computers—the same equipment found in the stalwart Ford Crown Victoria.

If self-driving cars are too far off, and if we truly need our single-occupancy vehicles, then zero-emission or hydrogen vehicles help the city meet its sustainable plan.

In dual-motor P85D guise, the Tesla is much quicker—a fair consideration in the land of the car chase. It's also nearly three times as expensive as most gasoline-powered police cars, but less fuel and maintenance costs do work in the favor of EVs, giving electric cars in general the consideration they deserve in the view of the LAPD. Even cheaper ones.

If self-driving cars are too far off, and if we truly need our single-occupancy vehicles, then zero-emission or hydrogen vehicles help the city meet its sustainable plan.

Cars are still king. But now, not only can the car coexist alongside the innovations that make driving so much more relaxing, it can also thrive alongside those who don't want to drive. The money Measure M reaps in for public transit also goes to improving pedestrian and bicycle lanes for safety, improving traffic efficiency for cars, diverting commuters away from freeways, and even remapping bus routes to get out of the way of cars.

Why not a highway of hydrogen stations? A gondola alongside the 405 Freeway? There once was a helicopter service connecting LAX to Disneyland. Why not bring that back? The future is full of possibilities.