On Carsharing: New Thinking about Transport in Cities

World Carshare Cities Program 2013: Brainstorming notes of 11 April 2013invisible car-smaller

1. There are many many different ways to share cars in 2013 (far more in fact than most of even the experts talk about when they make presentations on carsharing).

2. This mix of ways of delivering these services is evolving at a speed that makes it a real challenge to keep up with the pace of developments. Even for the experts.

3. Carsharing cannot be considered in isolation; it is part of a more important tidal shift: the path to new ways of owning and operating cars. If we have this as our larger strategic context it helps us sharpen our eyes and understand what is going on.

4. The arguments behind this new pattern are very strong and practical. Not just in general but also at the level of the users . . . which at the end of the day is where the action really is. After all they are the ones that are making the decisions that shape the rest.

5. Let’s be clear on this. People are changing pattern and shifting to car sharing in increasing numbers not because it is environmentally correct, but because it offers a quality of service and economics that are much better adapted for many to the special conditions that are shaping our 21st century cities. If I move to carsharing in 2013 it’s because it saves me time, money and offers great comfort, convenience, service and quality of life than the old own-car ownership and use system.

6. Carsharing is going to be a very important part of the move to sustainable cities all over the planet. And not only in the rich, OECD countries.

7. Carsharing is not a detail — it is a vital part of a new and much more strategic approach to economy, efficiency and environment in cities everywhere.

8. Carsharing is thus an important opportunity are for literally every city on the map. Or at the very least all those of populations 30,000 or more.

9. And it means a HUGE game change for all of the key players. Basically we are redrawing all the lines on the court.

10. Working with local government is the vital key to success.

11. And that local governments everywhere need help. They simply do not understand the full range of strategic matters that are involved.

12. We need to have a way to bring their planning and implementation skills up to the needed level, at reasonable cost and time-efficiency.

And that is exactly what our 2013 World Carshare Cities project is all about.

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PS. But at the end of the day who cares?

• Well we can all see that the existing providers of carsharing and car rental services care a great deal.

• And so increasingly does the auto industry and IT providers of services and technology.

• Public transport operators, taxis, parking enterprises and other related transport players care, but for the most part as passive and rather suspicious observers at that.

• Government at all levels has been at best sporadically interested but with no strong central policy or competence.

• Academics, researchers and consultants like it — because it gives them something to do. (And they do have important contributions to make.)

• Some developers are seeing the opportunity and are jumping on it. But this is still very much a minority view and not one that is part of a broader overall policy and strategy.

• Local business and Chambers of Commerce by and large do not have this in their sights (but they should)

• And cities and local government, the ones that are finally the key actors, have for the most part gotten into this in uncoordinated ad hoc reaction to some problem or possible opportunity, but without a broader understanding or strategy for getting the most out of what is after all a significant opportunity for life quality and economic well-being of the city and those who live there.

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That’s how things look to us on this fine Spring day on the 11th of April. Now tell us what you think!




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