Monday, June 16, 2008

Car Sharing and City Planning

Thanks to Ginny Graves of CUBE (the Box City folks) for this resource.
The Planning Commissioners Journal

What would you do if someone offered you, in exchange for your car, access to a pay-by-the-hour car anytime you wanted it? What could you do with all that money you're spending on car loan payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking? What could your community do with the land for parking spaces and roadway lanes required to support your need to drive your own car everywhere? It's worth considering.

What Is Car Sharing?

Car sharing is a service that provides members with access to a fleet of vehicles on an hourly basis. Members reserve a car online or by phone, then walk or take transit to the parking space where the nearest car is located. In most programs, members are provided with an electronic key card that opens the car door. Typically, members are billed monthly for time and/or mileage.

The precursor of today's car sharing programs can apparently be traced back to a car sharing arrangement developed by a Zurich, Switzerland, housing cooperative in the late 1940s. But the kind of car sharing programs I'll be discussing have their roots in European programs of the late 1980s and early 90s, such as Mobility Switzerland, one of the world's largest car sharing operation -- with a fleet of 1,950 cars in some 1,050 locations, and more than 73,000 members.

American car sharing began in Portland, Oregon, in 1998. Over the past ten years, car sharing has taken off, with estimates of some 250,000 car share users today in the U.S. and Canada.

Car sharing is usually run by either for-profit operators, such as Zipcar; or by non-profit groups such as San Francisco's City Car Share, Philly CarShare, or Chicago's I-GO.

Click on the heading above to see the Planning Commissioners Journal.

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