You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Car Sharing Actually Works?

Posted in Four Wheels, Mass Transit by Stacy McMahon on March 29, 2005

You probably remember when ZipCar and FlexCar came out a few years ago. It seemed like an interesting idea, but you wondered how it could actually work. Even if someone made a genuine effort to use only the shared car for necessary trips, it would be hard to actually give up their personal car–what about emergencies? If you need to go to the ER, and there’s no FlexCar available, you’re in a bad situation. You might take that chance yourself, but if you have a family are you going to put them at risk?

I figured most people would end up hanging onto their own cars, and realize eventually that the car sharing is of no benefit when they’re already paying for a vehicle that they aren’t going to get rid of.

Turns out that’s not the case. And the car sharing companies are booming in a very unexpected area: the Los Angeles-like sprawl of the Washington, DC suburbs. The article is vague about the circumstances of the individuals who have taken the no-car plunge, and there seem to be some modest government subsidies involved (especially in securing parking spaces for the shared cars) but apparantly smaller companies that can’t afford to own a fleet of cars are taking advantage of the car sharing companies’ economies of scale. Which is more encouraging in a way, since it ought to allow businesses to function better in the inner suburbs, instead of running for the momentarily uncrowded edge.

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