Can carsharing help save the planet?
Sustainable Commuting |
Carsharing (a.k.a. ride-sharing) services provide an opportunity to reduce emissions from cars, reduce congestion on roads, and provide economic savings. With customers’ access to low rates on fuel and insurance, as well as the ability to use cars only when they are needed, driving becomes both a minimal cost in a monthly budget; as well as minimal as far as the emissions that take place when driving a car as necessary.
By sharing travel in cars with sharing services, the carbon footprint of the travel is essentially reduced by the number of passengers included in the trip – vs. each individual needing a separate drive. Additionally, many ride-sharing fleets are converting to electric cars.
Two leading carsharing companies include ZipCar and Car2Go (with locations both in the U.S. & around the world), where drivers, sometimes millions of members, work together to access cars as they are needed.
Services like these provide customers the ability to reserve cars, to which they get automated access; until the end of the reservation period, then the car is cleaned and given to the next customer reservation. This works especially well for those who need occasional transportation on business travel and other occasions. For some, it serves as a replacement for rental cars, and for others, it is a transportation source when driving is only an occasional need.
Carsharing involves filling empty seats in cars by pairing drivers and riders with common origins, destinations, and/ or stops. Traffic congestion is lightened, the costs of driving cars are reduced, and the carbon footprint of car travel is reduced with all ride-sharing activities (carsharing, carpooling, ride-hailing).
Ride-hailing services that use mobile apps like Uber and Lyft (also commonly referred to as ‘ride-sharing services‘; and that also offer food delivery & other services) offer much lower fares than standard taxi cabs, mobile apps for ease of payment, and the inclusion of more passengers than in the usual space of a taxi.
People in need of occasional transportation assistance can use these services as well. The use of hybrid and electric cars in carsharing fleets continues to grow, in the millions of cars that are shared in these programs worldwide.
The benefits of car sharing, for society
Less traffic and congestion.
You’re going to spend less time stuck in traffic. You’re going to get to where you want to go, with less risk of a delay.
Lower wear for roads.
Fewer vehicles partially correlates to lower road wear. So we can spend tax money on something else. This might be taking better care of the roads we already have, or improving other public transport services. Or it could be something else entirely.
Less air pollution.
This is a fundamental environmental benefit of car sharing. Fewer vehicles and more modern vehicles will improve local air quality. Cleaner air means a better time for those with certain health conditions. So less tax money would be spent on those suffering from the effects of air pollution, as well as conditions resulting from air pollution.
Less need for parking.
If the volume of traffic reduces, current parking will be more easily accessible. We may want to convert urban spaces from car parks into residences or other businesses.
Development of other transport and mobility infrastructure.
Car share members tend to do walk, cycle and use other modes of transportation more often. This can increase public support for developing infrastructure for these modes of transport. Think bigger pavements and sidewalks, more dedicated cycling paths, more bus lanes.
More fleets of newer vehicles.
Car share vehicles are used more than private cars, so the car share vehicles are replaced more frequently. Newer cars tend to be more efficient, cleaner, and quieter. So more cars on our roads will be more efficient, cleaner, and quieter, than if we had more private cars.
New technology is adopted faster.
As explained above, car share vehicles are replaced more frequently than private vehicles. So if there’s been a technological shift, this can be more quickly integrated into society. The adoption of electric vehicles (and retiring of fossil fuel vehicles) could happen much faster with widespread use of car sharing services.
Better acceptance of mobility as a service.
Car share members feel less need to own vehicles, and are more accepting of mobility services. When automated cars and more efficient transport solutions arrive, car share members are likely to be more accepting.
The benefits of car sharing, for the individual
Car sharing enables you to avoid the fixed overheads of car ownership:
- Monthly payment or capital purchase
- Annual testing and certification
- Roadside assistance
Owning a car requires upfront costs.
You may use the car because you’ve already paid some costs – you’re motivated to use your investment. Aside from fuel, or environmental concerns, there is little incentive to limit your use. But with a car share service, there is often zero or a very small overhead, and you pay per journey. So there is a clear additional cost for every trip, which may motivate you to question its necessity.
Less stressful to manage.
Buying and maintaining a vehicle can be stressful. At best it’s time consuming, and at worst you might get ripped off. You want to get a good deal on your car insurance. And you need to find a trustworthy mechanic. Well, car sharing eliminates all of those risks and hassles.
Health benefits.Car share members typically use other modes of transport more, including walking and cycling. This increases the amount of exercise that someone undertakes, which is great for your health.
It’s not always required, but having the choice to sometimes use a private mode is transport is good. Car sharing provides a method of private transport without the inefficient burden owning a car.
Sometimes you just need to rebel, right? Screw the bus timetable, I’ve got plans! Well car sharing gives the option of personal freedom to go where and when you like, without needing to own a car.
Improves access for all income levels.
Not everyone can afford to own a vehicle. The monthly payments may be too high, or the lump sum too much. But car sharing services only require small payments in accordance with how much you use it. This enables access to car mobility for all income tiers.” FROM – brightaroundthecorner.com/mobility/benefits-car-sharing
Project Drawdown offers this summation for the recent rise in popularity of ride-sharing services-
“A wave of technologies has accelerated ridesharing’s popularity:
- Smartphones allow people to share real-time information about where they are and where they are going.
- The algorithms that match them with others and map the best routes are improving daily.
- Social networks are buoying trust, so individuals are more likely to hop in with someone they have not met.” FROM – drawdown.org/solutions