Carpooling is booming in Melbourne. Is this for you?

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Carsharing, however, has its downsides: there is no guarantee of availability within walking distance of your home, people may return cars late or out of fuel, you may need to reserve a vehicle for days to ahead, and there’s the logistical headache if you’re caught in an accident or cop fined for speeding. Analysis by consumer advocacy organization Choice in 2015 showed that car-sharing systems were only more economical for drivers who traveled less than 5,000 km per year, or about 400 km per month on average.

Knowles Tivendale, chief executive of transport consultancy Movement and Place, said increased car sharing could have a big impact on local streets.

“We know that each car-sharing vehicle in a city center frees up about eight car spaces on a street,” he said.

Despite the rise in demand, car-use expert Elizabeth Taylor – senior lecturer in urban planning and design at Monash University – said car-sharing coverage was still “incredibly patchy” across the country. city ​​and state.

“As far as where car-sharing operators go and the policy that supports them, it’s really ad hoc,” Taylor said.

Only a third of Melbourne’s 33 metropolitan council areas have carpooling policies: City of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Boroondara, Darebin, Glen Eira, Maribyrnong, Moreland, Yarra, Greater Dandenong and Kingston.

Tivendale, who consults with local councils, said there was much more growth possible in the car-sharing market if councils and businesses committed to swapping fleet vehicles for car-sharing memberships to the staff. This would ensure that car-sharing operators have enough demand to install a car, and businesses could dedicate their existing car locations to the program.

“It can be any company in a region or agglomeration, public or private, whatever its size, even a real estate agent. They would all have the potential to generate savings for their own business and would then be the base load of demand that would support the service available for area residents to use as well,” he said.

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He said car-sharing operators should also market an alternative to a “second and third car” to families, rather than just targeting vehicle-free city center types.

Although Adam Ford is quite happy with carsharing and won’t be buying any more cars anytime soon, he wants to see improvements in coverage and more model flexibility.

“I work from home. I have a small marketing business and often visit clients, spending half an hour traveling there,” he said. “You pay by the hour and so if the car stays in a parking lot for three or four hours, you pay to have it stay there.

“What I need is a system where I can book it for an hour to get to, say, Camberwell, and take it back to a bay there and then hire another one when I have to get back. my house.

“Sometimes, [doing] comparing the costs for these individual tours, I’m thinking “I should just get a taxi”.”

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Lance B. Holton