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  • Green Guide to Car Sharing

    What is Car Sharing?

    Carsharing is a system where a fleet of cars (or other vehicles) is jointly-owned by the users in distinction from car rental or cars in private ownership. The users are organized as a democratically-controlled company, public agency, cooperative, ad hoc grouping. The fleet is made available for use by members of the carshare group in a wide variety of ways. The costs and troubles of vehicle purchase, ownership and maintenance are transferred to a central organizer (the Carshare Operator or more familiarly CSO). It has been around in various forms for more than half a century, but it is only in the last decade that it has begun to gather force as a viable alternative to car ownership—for some people and some places. Today there are more than six hundred cities in the world where people can carshare.

    As is often the case with innovations that spring up more or less spontaneously in different parts of the world, operations are organized in many different ways in different places, according to the objectives of the organizers and users. A small informal start-up may have only one shared car, and only a handful of sharers. In the larger services that are increasingly coming into existence, participants are typically city-dwellers whose transportation needs are largely met by public transit, walking, or cycling.

    Why is Car Sharing a Green Idea?

    The potential benefits of car sharing programs include reduction of car ownership and reduction in total vehicle miles traveled. The associated benefits of reduced car use include reduced air and noise pollution, a decrease in traffic congestion, and less land dedicated to parking spaces and expanded roads and highways. Additionally, car sharing provides a low-cost alternative for those who occasionally need a car but who cannot afford the costs of owning one full-time. This is because car sharing allows people to pay for a car only when they’re actually driving it, rather than paying for a car all the time (i.e., 24 hours a day, 365 days a year), even when its not in use.

    How does Car Sharing Work?

    Car sharing is a very simple concept that is easy for people to understand and use. The rest of this section explains how car sharing works from the perspective of potential users as well as from the perspective of someone who wants to set-up a car sharing organisation.

    What kind of journeys work best?

    Because of the organisation involved, car sharing is most appropriate for pre-planned or regular journeys, including:

    But you can also search for traveling companions for one-off journeys to anywhere in the country.

    Joining an Existing Car Sharing Network

    LiftShare are one of the UK’s largest car sharing networks and should be your first port of call if you want to join a car sharing network. The service is available to anyone who travels in the UK – students, commuters, people on the school run, football supporters, festival goers, tourists, employees – anyone! All you need to do is register on their website (for free). Once you’ve registered your journey and submitted the information they’ll search the database for possible matches and give you the details of other people going your way. You can contact any suitable travelling companions via their e-mail (this ensures members privacy) and arrange to meet them at a collection point that suits you both. Make sure you both bring I.D. so you both know you’re meeting the right person.

    Starting your Own Car Sharing Club

    Another way of getting involved is to set up a car-sharing group of your own. By ‘group’ we mean any population of people who are able to share cars to mutual benefit. For example, groups could be defined by geography (i.e. a village, town, city, country or region), function (i.e. a company, school, university or hospital), location (i.e. a housing estate, business park or industrial estate) or activity (i.e. people interested in classical music), sports etc. There are two main types of group you can start:

    1. Public groups – Public groups are car sharing enthusiasts who openely seek new members, giving you the choice to travel with other people with similar interests, whether they be bird-lovers, festival goers or people from the same region as you.
    2. Private groups – A private group is for car sharing within a defined memberlist. For example you could establish a group scheme for your company, which would allow all your colleagues to search for other colleagues with similar travel requirements. Alternatively you could set up a scheme for your school, enabling teachers and parents to organise school runs more efficiently.

    Car Sharing is a great way to save you money and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. For more information on car sharing LiftShare are the leading UK car sharing organisation and will give you all the information you require.

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