Integrating car share into ‘total urban mobility’

Integrating car share into ‘total urban mobility’

ARTICLE 4

Integrating car share into ‘total urban mobility’

And the other crucial issue is the link between these new types of self drive taxis and the traditional public transport network – in terms of payment systems, linking up as feeders to trains and metros, and the necessary integrated information provision, for example.

“If the history of the car in cities has taught us anything, it is that we need to be humble about our ability to forecast the future” says Le Vine. “This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first underground line which steamed its way from Paddington to Farringdon on 15th January 1863.

Who could have known where that would lead – this was fully half a century before the arrival of the motorcar and its own massive consequences.” Meanwhile, Zipcar’s $500 million acquisition by Avis-Budget Group is generally seen as a watershed moment for the car sharing industry.

Barely ten years ago the concept was a novelty, and it has now become a familiar sight in trendy urban neighbourhoods. Today Zipcar has caught Avis’s eye, and they are joined in this space by dozens of innovative independents like City CarShare, PhillyCarshare, I-Go, and CommunAuto, all offering “wheels when you want them.”

Britain leads the world in having a trade body (Carplus) that accredits carsharing operators and encourages this form of sustainable car use. Dave Brook, the USA’s leading carsharing expert, suggests an organisation like Carplus is needed there for the industry to reach its goals for growth and development.

Membership exceeds one in five adults in dense urban neighbourhoods from Montreal to San Francisco. Each shared vehicle in North America has been shown to replace 9 to 13 personal cars, and reduce driving by an average of 44% – as members pocket the savings and choose to walk, bike, and take transit.

Zipcar has been at the forefront of this transformation. Launching in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a handful of limegreen Volkswagen Beetles, the feisty start-up pioneered early innovation, and helped inspire a whole movement towards not just Carshare but shared access to everything from houses, to bicycles, to parking spaces, and even pets.

Although Zipcar’s 760,000 members account impressively for nearly half of global car-sharing members, the company is only now beginning to turn a profit. After a successful IPO in April 2011 – another watershed moment – Zipcar’s stock initially rose to $31.50 but tumbled after continued losses, closing at just $8.24 before the Avis announcement.

Zipcar reportedly had only two month’s operating cash on hand as of its September 2012 close.

 Carshare Europe conference
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