Friday, February 8, 2008

Austin Carshare Program

The following article was printed in The Daily Texan.

It provided information about Austin CarShare, which is a nonprofit, that provides an alternative to owning a car in Austin. The premise enroll in a membership and pay for car usage based on the miles driven and the usage time. There is no need to pay for gas, insurance, maintenance, or cleaning. There are currently 4 car share location in Central Austin.

Based on the organization research, each car shared amounts to 12 fewer car on the road, 4,000 fewer gallons of gas used, and 21,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. They also noted that the average savings for members per year is $6,500. The organization currently has about 200 members. More info can be found at the following site.

I think that Austin CarShare is a great idea, but in order it to be effective there are two main hurdles that it must overcome:

1. People density in downtown. I moved to Austin from Philadelpia and there PhillyCarShare was everywhere. They have over 30,000 members. And what fueled their growth over the years was the development and the adaptive reuse of buildings in downtown. Once the people were there things took off. We can also see the growth currently taking place in downtown Austin, hopefully this will also give Austin CarShare a boost.

2. City Involvement. In the case of PhillyCarShare, the City set up a partnership with the organization. They negotiated deals with the organization so that city workers would use the CarShare vehicles, and they allowed the vehicles to be parked on City lots. The City is Austin is all for green, and I am sure it is only a matter of time before this happens as well.

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