Solving Cities

Where does carsharing work best?

Posting in Cities

For carsharing, some locations are better than others.

Outside the city -- where buses run less frequently than in downtown and where the car is the most prevalent form of transportation -- might seem, at first, to be a prime spot for carsharing, but is it really?

In the Vancouver metropolitan area, a few new carshare cars were recently added in car-dependent suburbs. But the rise of carshare has been much slower in places where cars rule. In fact, Vancouver is finding that it's places closer to transit where carshare is the most successful. In the city, Vancouver has three carsharing companies -- Modo, Car2go, and Zipcar -- with a total of 700 cars. According to the Surrey Leader:

Good transit and dense, walkable neighbourhoods are essential because those are areas where more residents are apt to give up their own wheels and opt to rent for just occasional trips.

Users save the cost of owning, maintaining and insuring a vehicle they might rarely use and instead typically pay about $13 an hour, with gas and parking costs included.

They can rent the vehicle that suits their trip – car, minivan, SUV or truck – rather than being limited to the one they own.

Mike Soron, a Chinatown resident and executive director of the non-profit Sustainable SFU, uses only car-sharing services to get around when he isn't walking, biking or taking transit.

But does that mean carsharing will never find its niche in the suburbs? When it comes to carsharing services, like Modo, don't expect a huge boom in carsharing, except in places with high transit connectivity. But that doesn't mean the suburbs can't get in on the carsharing act. As Clark Williams-Derry, research director at Sightline Institute, tells the Surrey Leader, peer-to-peer carsharing might be a good option:

"The suburbs are perfect for this kind of thing," Williams-Derry said, adding most residents need their car but may not use it for long stretches of time when it could be earning extra money for them.

In some U.S. cities, peer-to-peer carsharing is already happening thanks to this app.

Photo: Flickr/abundantc

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure