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Friday, May 18, 2012

Is Your Car Really That Important?

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector    
Urban Sustainability Agent   

Our cars define us – it’s a status symbol, a mark of independence and a point of pride. They provide convenient and reliable transportation but have you ever considered how much it costs to own that car? Fuel (gas, electric), tires, tune-ups, insurance and parking aren’t things the car dealers mention when you’re on the sales lot. What if you had alternative transportation options, would you use it? The phenomenon of “car sharing” is on the rise and fits those who want a variety of mobility options and support protecting the environment.

Although car sharing is certainly economical and convenient in some cities, it highlights a growing trend that users want alternative transportation options that fit their lifestyles. Car sharers are more likely to drive less, use more fuel-efficient vehicles, and walk or bike more than the average person. Car sharing reduces private vehicle ownership and the hassles associated with it e.g. parking, insurance and car maintenance. More importantly, fewer vehicles means fewer vehicle miles travelled which has been identified as a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

There are a variety of car sharing options from private companies like ZipCar, City CarShare, I-GO to rental companies like Hertz as well as derivatives like peer-to-peer car sharing. All of these offer the user a variety of options in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco, Chicago and Austin. Fees range from $8 to $15 per hour which includes gas and insurance! As with most sharing programs, weekdays are less expensive than weekends.

In Florida, the ZipCar cities include Gainesville, Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee. Although the Tampa Bay area is not home to Zipsters, we have a number of rideshare programs available for our residents through TBARTA. For up-to-date information on transit options in our area, check out Pinellas County Alternatives Analysis and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency.

So next time you need to get around town, try carpooling, car sharing, biking, walking or the bus – you will pocket the savings!

Resources/Links -

City CarShare
Hertz on Demand
Alternatives Analysis


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