Car sharing and renting key to reducing ownership

As the Department for Infrastructure this week puts forward more new proposals to reduce private car usage and reduce transport’s carbon footprint its worth considering what options people have to ditch their cars altogether.

Better public transport and safer active travel routes are key to this but so too is car sharing and car renting. Those car owners that only need their car for one off journeys every couple of weeks would be more likely to consider becoming car free if car sharing and renting took off here but the evidence seems to show both a lack of awareness and uptake.

Car renting ‘from your peers’ (or ‘AirBNB for cars’)  is available via apps such as Turo but the choice in the north is limited – extremely limited. A test search gives me the option of 7 cars from £59 a day but they are mainly Belfast based.  Across the water options range from £20 a day for a car in London to £30 a day for a car in Glasgow.  ‘Hiyacar’ seems to have no options in the north either.

Established car rental firms here offer options of day rental from prices around £28 but for those of us living out in the sticks it includes the inconvenience of having to get to where to the rental firms are based (often in airports).

Meanwhile in the south carsharing company GoCar aims to be available in 24 counties by the end of this year.

Paul McNiece, Head of Country for GoCar, told the Irish Times that

“Our customers recognise the environmental benefits of embracing multi-modal transport, combining walking, cycling, public transit, trains, and car sharing to meet varied needs,” said Mr McNeice.

“Our research, based on European studies, shows that GoCar annually removes over 8,000 cars from Irish roads, underlining our sustainability commitment. Notably, 62 per cent of users abstain from car ownership while 57 per cent actively use public transport.

“Separately, 60 per cent of our users said they would consider purchasing a car if GoCar didn’t exist. As attitudes shift toward sustainability, GoCar’s fleet expansion investment addresses alternative and multi-modal transport needs effectively.”

Car-sharing is often informal arrangements between neighbours or work colleagues but there are some online options that are useful for one off journeys. On ‘Liftshare’ I can avail of a carshare from Derry that suits a one-off return journey to Belfast for just £5.40 as a ‘suggested contribution’. People register and indicate whether they are happy to be a passenger or driver or both for the carshare. Again with so many single car journeys to and from Belfast every day one would expect to find more options to avail of in this area.

With cost of living pressures it is surprising that carsharing and car renting hasn’t become more popular here. If developed appropriately it could radically reduce the total number of cars on our roads, solve traffic problems and encourage people to move away from car ownership to public transport and active transport with the occasional one off car use for those ‘awkward’ journey days.

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