There is a new trend emerging in transportation, and it is in the form of car sharing. Although the practice of using shared vehicles has been around for several years, it has recently become a booming industry and has expanded to even more cities across the United States and the world.
Of course, there are the benefits of personal car ownership, especially when it comes to convenience and flexibility. Lay out the negatives though, and there are even longer lists of things that make owning a car seem more like a nightmare: maintenance, parking, insurance, cleaning, gas, the list goes on! These new transportation alternatives have arisen to offset the high cost of car ownership in the form of car sharing programs.
Car sharing programs are not the same as carpooling. Car sharing is where a company owns a group of vehicles and rents them out to its members. Members can rent cars on an hourly rate (in some cases it is calculated by distance), and the cars are used on an as-needed basis. Car ports are stationed all over metropolitan areas, usually in garages, but sometimes right on the street. Studies have shown that these programs reduce car ownership, which in part reduces many other factors such as need for parking spaces, emissions and gas consumption, and cost savings. It has also been shown that members of these programs often do not own personal vehicles, and opt to use other modes of transportation such as walking or biking, as well as public transit, when they are not in need of a car.
The need for alternative forms of transportation has become a necessity, and cities are realizing it. The impacts of car sharing have been numerous, and it seems that people who utilize these services appreciate the convenience of it very much.
Companies such as Zipcar or Enterprise CarShare have created a great way for people who do not have their own car get the occasional benefits of a vehicle.