Recently in Transportation Category

May 10, 2010

Peer-to-Peer Car-Sharing On Its Way

Car-sharing happens on many levels. Your friend borrows your car for a day; you and your neighbor agree to share equal ownership and use of one car; you and five neighbors and friends share ownership of a pickup truck; you use ZipCar when you need to go the grocery store.

Soon, you may be able to share your personal vehicle or use vehicles belonging to your neighbors, using technology similar to that used by rental and car-sharing systems. It's called peer-to-peer car-sharing and it's catching on in the United States and abroad. In California, a peer-to-peer car-sharing bill has passed out of committee and is headed to the Assembly floor in May. A new site called RelayRides is launching person-to-person car-sharing in the Baltimore and Boston areas. And in the UK, WhipCar says peer-to-peer rentals area available across the country.
February 3, 2010

Trend Toward Car-Sharing Expected to Continue

Research firm Frost & Sullivan just issued a new report that says car-sharing is on the rise and expected to grow exponentially over the next five years. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of drivers using car-sharing networks increased 117% in North America. That number is expected to triple in the next five years, to a total of about 4.4 million individual users.

My favorite number in all these statistics: every shared vehicle replaces 15 individually owned vehicles. Another cool number: An average ZipCar user can save up to $435 per month by driving shared vehicles.

The numbers don't lie! Car-sharing is here to stay.
January 6, 2010

New App for Cab Sharing Could Help Travelers Share and Save

An article in today's Seattle Times about cab-sharing from Seattle-Tacoma Airport got me wondering why more cities don't facilitate this money-saving and ecologically sound form of transportation. The article features a new application for the iPhone called free service that would allow travelers at Sea-Tac to enter a destination and connect with other arriving travelers going to a similar destination, so that the travelers could share a cab from the airport. The app was developed by two Seattle residents who would like to expand to other airports.

Something I thought was cool is that the concept has met with no resistance from the taxi company with exclusive rights to service Sea-Tac, whose representatives said "If people want to be creative and save money and be more green, we're absolutely OK with that."

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is on board with taxi-sharing, too. In July of last year the "Commissioner's Corner" column addressed the different ways the Taxi and Limousine Commission was supporting taxi-sharing, including pilot programs to develop multi-fare meters, support group riding at reduced rates from taxi stands at points on busy corridors, and place "livery stands" at places like shopping centers.

In U.S. cities, where taxis usually supplement public transportation systems, cab-sharing is a great way for consumers to save money while, in many cases, generating additional revenue for the cab driver. In other parts of the world, taxis actually are public transportation. When I was in Amman, Jordan last year, we went everywhere by cab--there is no public transportation, and taxis are super cheap and always available. And according to Wikipedia, dozens of other countries use taxis as the main form of transportation, calling the service everything from "multi-hire taxi" to "taxibus."   
August 26, 2009

Car Sharing on Campus: A Natural Fit for Chico State and Others

California State University at Chico announced this week that students, faculty, and staff will soon be able to participate in car sharing through a new partnership with Zipcar. Participants will pay a small initial membership fee and then have access to the five cars on campus for an hourly rate of $8 ($66 for the day).

Car sharing is a natural for college campuses. Often, students and faculty have little need for a car, either because the campus is situated within walking distance of stores and services or because it's fairly remote and self-contained. The expense of car payments, insurance, and parking is just not worth it for many--but a car does come in handy sometimes, and car sharing is perfect for those times. Not to mention it helps the campuses contribute to a more sustainable world, one of CSU Chico's stated reason for starting the program.

Zipcar says it has programs on 120 college campuses across the country and I imagine that will only grow.
August 3, 2009

Bike-Sharing Comes to San Francisco--Temporarily

Over the past weekend, shared bicycles were available in San Francisco's beautiful Golden Gate Park. A state-of-the-art pay station spent five hours in the park on Sunday, allowing riders to swipe a credit card or use a prepaid pass to take one of the bikes out for a spin.

Users loved it, and city employees, including Mayor Gavin Newsom, are enthusiastic, but it was only a one-day thing. Mayor Newsom's plan to start a pilot bike-sharing program in the city by the Bay has been stalled out since he announced it in January, hampered by criticism that it was too small to succeed and by fears of vandalism and theft. 

Sunday's bikes were part of the "Bixi" system--a blend of the words "bike" and "taxi"--that is currently in use in Montreal. Let's hope it, or some form of bike-sharing, catches on in more cities soon.