The Potential for Car-clubs in Rural Areas - the European Experience
CAMARA P, Maunsell Transport Planning, UK
European city 'car share/club' schemes have derived significant environmental benefits: lower individual car mileage, higher vehicle occupancy rates and a considerable modal shift towards 'greener' modes of transport. 'Car-clubs' is a convenient form of s
European city 'car share/club' schemes have derived significant environmental benefits: lower individual car mileage, higher vehicle occupancy rates and a considerable modal shift towards 'greener' modes of transport. 'Car-clubs' is a convenient form of short-term car hire that enables its members to have access to a wide range of cars without actually the need of owning privately any vehicle. Their members share a number of cars individually for all sorts of journeys, at any time of the day, and all purposes.
The aim of 'car-club' schemes is to provide access to cars whenever walking, cycling and public transport are not viable alternatives, which seems to be mainly the case in rural areas. The 'car-club' concept ultimately seeks to divorce car use from car ownership (Armitage, 1999).
The advantages of such clubs are many fold: they allow people to use cars without necessarily owning one; they allow members access to cars for very short periods of time from convenient neighbourhood or workplace locations (this is mainly the case in city-based initiatives); and finally they encourage combining the use of other means of transport, including buses, trains, walking, cycling and taxis.
Another advantage is savings in running a private car. In Singapore for instance car ownership is very expensive costing the average owner between $1,200 and $1,500 a month in maintenance, while in Canada cost of running a car rose to $8,000 per year - car clubs can reduce such costs significantly allowing the same kind of usage or a more rational way of using cars - most cars are driven .only two hours a day, that means they are parked more than 90% of the time. Car-clubs improve such sub-utilisation of the fleet and more people can benefit from the same vehicle.
The objective of this paper is to explore the potential of such schemes in rural areas and how they could be operational to promote mobility and improve accessibility in these areas. By using the European experience of city car- clubs the paper will look at how these schemes could be also developed in rural areas and adapted to its residents' needs in co-ordination with other forms of transportation or even suggesting other forms of ownership.
There seems to be a niche to be explored in rural areas. If such schemes are well developed in rural areas significant improvements could be achieved in terms of accessibility and mobility, esPecially if these initiatives are linked with current public transport network such as bus and rail services, taxis and community transport.
Association for European Transport