Traffic solutions: car-sharing

The Problem

We’ve got too much traffic on our roads and too many cars. 

Do I need a car?  Not always, but there are occasions when I do.   Having recently cut my car in half, I’m considering my options in terms of replacing it before the used-car law kicks in.  Considering that I can afford either a used or a new car and I find not having one quite a hassle for the times when you need it, I shall ultimately end up getting another one.   One more car off the road, and one more on.  Net change to the number of cars on the island?  Zero. 

It isn’t right to force people to give up their cars when alternatives could be created that make people want to give up their cars.  Even still, is there a way that companies will best be able to satisfy the needs of their employees without discriminating against certain individuals such as single ex-pats, the commodity that international business most wants to attract.

What are the alternatives?  Are there better solutions?  How could we implement them and what difference would it make?


Current Alternatives

What are my alternatives?  Well, it is highly unlikely for me to take the bus.   They wouldn’t like all my kitesurfing gear and the service doesn’t run after 6:30 to St. David’s anyway, which makes public transport pointless if you actually have a life. 

What about a taxi?  When it costs $20-30 to ride from Hamilton to St. David’s, what would a trip out to Somerset cost?  $60?  Then back?  So we’re looking at $120 a trip for something I try to do every weekend, some evenings and really any time there is wind.  That’s a fair bit of cash to drop any time I want to go kitesurfing and when compared to the added luxury of having your own car is not an incentive to give up having a car.


A New Solution?

According to FlexCar, a for-profit car-sharing company based out of Portland, they have been able to succeed in getting 1400 people to share 40 cars.  That’s 35 people for every car.  Compare that to Bermuda, which according to there are some 29,230 cars for our population of 65,773.  That means there are 2.25 people for every car. 

If we could achieve half of the success that FlexCar has had and get 700 people to share 20 cars.  Today, those 700 people with their own cars at 2.25 people per car equal some 311 cars.  Take out the 20 original cars and that’s some 291 cars that have been eliminated off of the roads.  Compare this to ZipCar, whose 100,000 members share 3,000 cars.  35,000 more people than the number who reside on this island sharing 1/10th the number of cars.

Imagine, a variety of different styles of cars and trucks parked in various places around the island including grocery stores, bus stops and in and around town.  All you’d have to do is be a member, walk up to the car, wave a card and drive off.  Gas, reserved parking and insurance are all included and all you have to do is return the car to it’s spot when you’re done. 

Imagine if we could get 10,000 people to use such a program and get more than 4000 cars off our roads?  What would that do to traffic?


How to implement it?

1.  Conduct a survey

Put Research Innovations to work in polling the people to see how many people would consider a car-sharing scheme.  Do they have cars today?  How often would they use it?  Do they use public transport?  Would this increase interest in public transport? 

2.  Introduce legislation/licensing incentives

Make car-sharing legal and encourage insurance companies to back the scheme with adequate coverage. 

3.  Introduce personal incentives and disincentives.


Would you give up your car?

If today a car-sharing scheme existed in Bermuda, would you be willing to give up your car?  What would it take to convince you?  Do you think car-sharing would be a good solution to help address our traffic woes and encourage more people to consider public transport alternatives?

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