Promoting car sharing

APEIS/RISPO Strategic Policy Options (SPOs) Database
Discussion Paper

Car sharing is a scheme which offers members access to a vehicle without ownership. Vehicles are collectively owned and maintained by car sharing organisations. The system can be thought of as organised short-term car rental; people who want to use those vehicles become members of those organisations, and make reservations when they need to drive. Users pay according to time and/or mileage, usually billed monthly. The major differences of car sharing from rent-a-car system include: users can rent cars for short time period (e.g., 30 minutes), and the members do not have to visit the company counters for checkouts and check-ins of vehicles. The social benefits of car sharing include saving urban space, smoothing traffic flow, providing individual transport measures with low cost, and reducing environmental burdens. It started in Switzerland in late 1980s and now there are hundreds of operational organisations in Europe and 15 organisations in North America as of July 2003. In Asia, car sharing is not as prevalent as in Europe and North America, but it is being introduced in Singapore and Japan.

Objectives (what):
- To reduce vehicle use and ownership to mitigate related congestion, air pollution, and green house gas (GHG) emissions
- To address the problem of shortages of parking spaces
- To provide a flexible mode of transportation to those who cannot afford to own private vehicles

Applicable geographic area and socio-economic conditions (where):
1. Geographic conditions
- Areas with high residential and/or commercial density
- Areas where there are alternative means of transport to private vehicles
- Areas where lack of parking space is considered a problem
2. Socio-economic conditions
- Likely to draw more users where there is economic incentive: i.e., in the areas where ownership and operation of vehicles are expensive
- Applicability in developing countries is not proved since the experiences have

Stakeholders (by whom, for whom):
- by whom: local governments, private companies, private developers, public transport providers, consumers associations, NGOs
- for whom: people who need automobiles to access destinations

Time span (by when):
Even successful practices in Europe and United States took three to five years until the membership rapidly increased.

Expected impacts:
It is expected that car sharing would contribute to reduction in the vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) and reduction in ownership of cars. The reduction is expected to lead to lower emissions of air pollutants and CO2. Those emissions per vehicle would be further reduced if car sharing schemes use lower emission vehicles such as hybrid cars and electric vehicles. Reduction in VKT and car ownership will mitigate traffic congestion and lack of parking spaces. Consumers can save money by joining car sharing since the costs such as parking, inspection and maintenance, and insurance is lower than the case of individual ownership, especially if the total distance driven is relatively short.


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