What about technology? I think that there would be no cars or helicopters in and above the streets; this follows from the fact that the people of Omelas are happy people. Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive.
In the middle category — that of the unnecessary but undestructive … — they could perfectly well have central heating, subway trains, washing machines, and all kinds of marvelous devices not yet invented here: floating light sources, fuelless power, a cure for the common cold. …
I inclined to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming into Omelas on very fast little trains and double-decked trams, and that the train station is Omelas is actually the handsomest building in town …
Ursula K. Le Guin
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
The Wind’s Twelve Quarters.
Of course a big city has other needs if it is to provide for equitable happiness while growing beyond a certain scale — possibly including subway trains — but Le Guin is using necessary in a philosophical sense here: not what is necessary for a city, but what is necessary for happiness.
Le Guin, who passed away last week at the age of 88, never learned to drive: not because she couldn’t but because she didn’t like it, and she was fortunate to have a family who could do it for her. Cars were necessities in her place and time, but given the choice in her fiction, she often did without them, or made them recede into the background. She praises Venice as a city where you can hear “the sounds that humans make,” because you can’t hear motors.
One of her most powerful young-adult books, Very Far Away From Anywhere Else, features a teenager who doesn’t want the car that his father gives him at age 16, because he really loves walking. This is part of his desire to be something other than what’s dictated by the society around him.
In any case, what matters in Le Guin is not so much her specific references to cars as the ethics behind them, and the quotation above lays that out as clearly as anything. And it’s from a story that you must read, for reasons explained here.