Home Business Carsharing is on the rise in Melbourne. Is this for you?

Carsharing is on the rise in Melbourne. Is this for you?

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However, carpooling has its drawbacks: there’s no guarantee of availability within walking distance of your home, people can return cars late or out of fuel, you may need to reserve a vehicle days in advance, and there’s a logistical headache if you’re stranded again in an accident or police ticket for speeding. 2015 Analysis of Choice’s Consumer Protection Campaign showed that car-sharing schemes were only more economical for drivers who traveled less than 5,000 km per year, or an average of about 400 km per month.

Knowles Tivendale, managing director of transport consultancy Movement and Place, said increased car sharing could have a big impact on local streets.

“We know that each shared car in the city center frees up about eight car spaces on one street,” he said.

Despite the rise in demand, car use expert Elizabeth Taylor, senior lecturer in urban planning and design at Monash University, said car coverage was still “incredibly uneven” across the city and state.

“In terms of where car-sharing operators are going and where the policies are to support them, it’s really out of the box,” Taylor said.

Only a third of Melbourne’s 33 metropolitan areas have a car-sharing policy: City of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonington, Baroundara, Darebin, Glen Eyre, Maribyrnong, Moreland, Yarra, Greater Dandenong and Kingston.

Tivendale, who advises local councils, said the car share market could grow significantly if councils and businesses committed to exchanging their car fleets for employee car share memberships. This would ensure carpool operators have sufficient demand to install cars and businesses could dedicate their existing car spaces to the scheme.

“It could be any company in a regional or metropolitan area – public or private of any size – even an estate agent. They could all save for their own business and then be the base load demand that would support the service that would be available for the residents of the area to use as well,” he said.

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He said car-sharing operators should also market to families as an alternative to a “second and third car”, rather than just targeting people in the city center without a car.

While Adam Ford is happy with car sharing and won’t be buying a car anytime soon, he wants to see better coverage and more flexibility in the models.

“I work at home. I have a small marketing business and I often visit clients, spending half an hour on the drive,” he said. “You pay by the hour, so if a car sits in a parking lot for three or four hours, you’re paying to keep it there.

“What is needed is a system where I can book it for an hour to get to, say, Camberwell and bring it back to the bay there and then hire another one when I need to get home.

“Sometimes, [doing] comparing the costs of these individual visits, I think that “I should have just taken a taxi”.

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