CARS IN THE AGE OF MASS TRANSIT
There is an interesting article from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. It can be found here. In summary, Kitchener-Waterloo has a car sharing co-operative program. It has now repaid $30 000 loaned to them from the Municipal Government in 2002. Although it requested another $50 000 Line of Credit, only another $30 000 Line of Credit was offered.
A car-sharing co-op compliments, not competes with, mass transit. Mass transit is a key component to reducing individual car use but sometimes a car is necessary. One needs a car to either move heavy objects or to reach places not served by mass transit.
With regard to the environment, Car Co-Operatives are an effective way to reduce climate change that does not require heavy investment in infrastructure or a steep learning curve for consumers.
A a German study the manufacturing of a car uses half the total energy it shall consume during its lifecycle. We don’t use our cars most of the time. They sit idle. This means more energy used from redundant cars but there is also the pavement consumed to park them. A great deal of the square footage of cities is consumed simply by parked cars. Reducing the number of parked cars, however, would cities to increase size without increasing urban sprawl.
Car co-operatives is also a way to help those in financial need. Many people who receive some form of social assistance feel that they must have a vehicle. The poor live far from bus stops or train stations because homes near mass transit are more expensive. Also, buildings that have parking are usually more expensive. Since they usually can purchase old cars only, there is more fuel consumption and car repairs. It is a double bind.
A car-sharing co-op, may reduce these charges. The poor can access the city when they need to. Vehicles for the car-sharing co-op can be distributed throughout poorer neighbourhoods. This program can be supplemented by a “morning shuttle” that takes residents from poorer neighbourhoods to the nearest bus stop. This will greatly increase the job opportunities of the poor which may save money in the long run.
The poor can be targeted particularly because many (myself included) still feel a great deal of pride of ownership. Although logically I should want to be rid of my car an expense, I am reluctant to do so. I assume that many other consumers feel the same way. The poor, however, have fewer options. They can be used to demonstrate that our misgivings are not well-founded and that there is substantial benefit.