In my home city (Adelaide, Aust), the only public transport option for most is a very inefficient bus service. The best example I can provide is that of my wife; with a strong work history in her field, she thought when she moved here from Melbourne, finding a job would be easy. Unfortunately no employer would touch her. That she didn't, at 27, have a licence was seen as an unreliable trait; not because of anything about herself, but solely because she relies on public transport she inherited that stigma.
Having grown up here, it was instinctive to me to make the same assumptions, even though (or probably more so because) I relied on public transport until my late 20s, myself.
How Adelaide has been left to develop, I think TOD retrofitting would now be impossible, so as fossil fuel costs grow, I think Adelaidians will simply fork it out grudgingly. I'd like to think it would drive people away from sprawl and closer to services which in turn will slightly increase the housing density while open up previous housing space for additional service space, creating mixed use suburbia eventually.
We're moving to Melbourne in the near future and I've had idealistic daydreams of getting rid of the car, but I know I'm kidding myself. Like you, I think I have the duel view of my life - or expected life beyond the relocation.