Originally Published in the Monadnock Shopper News
Imagine these three scenarios:
You work from home and your car sits un-used in your driveway for days on end.
Next, picture yourself taking your garbage and recycling to the transfer station monthly, but there’s never enough room to fit it all in your small car in one trip.
Finally, imagine that you need to make hour-long trips once a month -- but instead of using your gas guzzler, you dream of using an electric vehicle for these longer trips.
In all three scenarios, carsharing could offer you a solution for your under-used, under-sized or gas-guzzling vehicle dilemma. What’s carsharing? Think of Airbnb, but instead of a room or condo -- you get to use a vehicle. It’s different from ridesharing, where you’re the passenger. With carsharing, you’re the driver.
When you use a vehicle at a traditional car rental business, you pay for the service on a one-time basis, usually by the day. With carsharing, you’re a member of a business or program that allows you to reserve a vehicle for specific periods of time.
You reserve your vehicle online or by phone, receive a key fob (keyless entry device) or code and pick up your vehicle at a designated location. It’s a self-service process, so there’s no waiting for a store front to open or standing in line to pick up your vehicle. Your costs may include a joining fee, monthly flat fee, plus additional fees based on time or miles used.
Carsharing models include for-profits, non-profits, cooperatives and informal groups of friends and neighbors. In 2016, there were over 1.8 million carsharing members in North America. In 2015, the Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) started exploring carsharing and its feasibility in our region.
MAST recently conducted a survey to gauge interest in carsharing in the Monadnock region. The bottom line: 52% wanted to use carsharing to save money. Another popular benefit, 42% wanted to use carsharing to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. One inspiring comment shared by a survey respondent, “It would allow us to get rid of our second car.”
According to a report by Keene State College Geography students Lisa Donnelly, Aimee Krafft and Gabriela Pacheco, a carsharing program based in Keene holds the most potential in our region. Keene has the right percentage of one-person households, people who commute by foot or bicycle, households with one or no vehicles plus other key demographics.
Peer-to-peer carsharing is the closest to Airbnb. Rather than an organization owning a fleet, individual car owners offer up their vehicle for others to use. Remember that first scenario, where your car was sitting un-used in your driveway? You could potentially make money using this model, sharing your car when you don’t need it.
One example of a peer-to-peer model is Turo. On its website, there’s a tool to help you estimate your earnings -- dependent on the value of your car and how often your car is used by Turo members. You receive 65-85% of the trip price, starting at $10 a day (a certain number of miles is included in this fee). Turo provides insurance and roadside assistance to its users.
Carshare Vermont is a non-profit based in Burlington, VT. Members pay a one-time fee of $30 and choose from two levels, based on use. The “Share-a-Lot” level costs $5 a month, plus $8 an hour, while the “Share-a-Little” level costs $15 a month, plus $6 an hour. Both levels include 125 miles per reservation -- extra miles cost 35 cents a mile.
Its website states, “Grab a Prius for an hour to run some errands, take an AWD Honda HR-V to the mountain for the day, or help a friend move with our pickup truck.” Since joining, 54% of its members got rid of a car or chose not to purchase one. Fuel, parking, roadside assistance, bike racks, snow tires are all included.
Kootenay Carshare, based in British Columbia, uses a cooperative business model to serve a number of rural towns. Members join for $500, receive a refundable share in the business and vote for its Board of Directors. Monthly, members pay a fee of $6 plus additional fees based on vehicle usage. Usage rates include insurance, fuel and maintenance.
“I joined the Carshare and gave up private car ownership six years ago,” shared one member. “I haven’t had a single moment of regret. I walk as much as possible, but when I need a car, there it is.”
Zipcar is a popular carsharing business with a compelling tagline, “Own the trip, not the car.” Membership starts at $7 a month, plus $8-$10 an hour and a one-time joining fee of $25. Fuel, insurance and 180 miles a day are included in the fees. Zipcars offers its services to universities and allows students as young as 18 years old to rent some of their vehicles.
Recently, Zipcar added a commuter option in select cities. This option includes unlimited and sole access to one vehicle and a parking spot from Monday at 5 a.m. through Friday at 7 p.m. Rates start at $249 a month plus 45 cents per mile and includes all maintenance and repairs.
BlueIndy offers an all-electric fleet of vehicles in Indianapolis with 200 charging stations. Basic membership costs $9.99 a month, plus $4 per 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, the cost switches to 20 cents a minute. BlueIndy also offers corporate memberships based on hours used and number of users, with the lowest level costing $150 per month and 25 cents per minute for up to 5 employees.
FleetCarma, a promoter of electric vehicle use, comments on its website: “As many carshare users choose not to own a car for environmental reasons, electric vehicle’s low emission status is a clear benefit. This [model] also makes them a favorite of city lawmakers looking to improve air quality standards.”
Is carsharing a good fit for Keene? Help us explore this question more. Join the MAST Carsharing Committee or volunteer some hours to help the committee out. Learn more at mastnh.org and contact Henry Underwood at firstname.lastname@example.org. or 603-357-0557 for committee details. Let's move our transportation options up a gear with carsharing!
The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431