A few weeks ago I came across an interesting post on Baristanet. The author, Jessica Stolzberg, and her family (husband, son, daughter and dog) make do with only one car. This is a very unusual arrangement for a suburban family, and Stolzberg recognizes that it isn't always possible. Given the right circumstances, however, it's quite feasible.
First and foremost, one of the spouses should be able to commute via mass transit to work. If the family lives within walking distance of a bus stop or train station, that's a bonus, not to mention another advantage of living in a walkable suburb. The second requirement is flexibility on the weekend. Having kids in suburbia means driving from religious school to sports practice to birthday parties, so schedules need to be carefully coordinated. The third is the recognition that sometimes the best-laid plans fall apart, requiring backup. One-car families need to have friends or family they can lean on in a pinch, or at least the number of a local taxi service.
Families that get by with only one car can save thousands of dollars a year in insurance, gas and maintenance. They also significantly reduce their carbon footprint. Not a bad deal!