Car sharing

Victoria Carter writes in the NZ Herald:

Last year Auckland Transport announced an international tender for a car-share service. Chairman Lester Levy and the mayor were photographed with electric cars and talked about how they hoped that, as a result of a tender, Auckland might get 300 cars. They haven’t got a single one.

In the fervour to get more electric cars on the road, are we missing the point? Sydney has more than 1000 car-share spaces thanks to its progressive mayor but Go Get, its largest car-share operator, has no electric cars. The electric car won’t reduce traffic, sprawl, road accidents, red light running, parking issues and so on.

Our roads are already crowded. We need more focus on encouraging people to reduce the number of cars we own.

For businesses, using cars by the hour is safer and more economical than paying a staff member to drive their own car or get in a taxi. Keyless technology enables members to book on line and then get into cars through a card reader on cars conveniently located all over city streets and inner suburbs.

The Netherlands understands car- share. As part of its Green Deal, it’s working on getting 16 million people to share 100,000 car-share cars by 2018.

I think car sharing has a big future. It is economically inefficient to own a car which sits unused 95% of the time. But you want to have a car available when you need it for short trips. So we own cars rather than hire them as there is no flexible hire model.

Why bother owning a car for the few trips you might do every week if you can use a car by the hour? Leading cities encourage developers to include car-share and bike infrastructure.

With improved public transport options, cycleways and so on, car-share makes it possible for Aucklanders to own fewer cars. If we want more people living in the city then we need more solutions to discourage car ownership, otherwise congestion will only get worse. The drivers who car-share do us all a favour. Selling their car frees up parking and road space. They tend to bike, bus, train and walk more, which makes them healthier. Studies show they also drive significantly less than when they owned a car.

The trick is not to publish people for owning cars, but to make it easy for car sharing services to prosper.

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