Carsharing allows people to rent cars on a short-term (hourly or daily), as-needed basis, paying only for the time they use the car and the mileage they drive. The operators of the carsharing program provide vehicle maintenance, repair, and insurance.
The term “shared-use vehicle” is a broader concept that encompasses both carsharing and station car programs. Station car programs ar e designed to facilitate transit access in the cases where the final destination of a person who uses public transportation is located too far away from the endpoint of the transit route; people can drive station cars to complete the final leg of their trip.
Shared-use vehicles allow individuals to gain the benefits of using a private car without the costs and responsibilities of owning a car. Members of a shared-use vehicle or carsharing program pick-up and return vehicles at shared use lots that are scattered throughout a particular region or concentrated at a transit station, activity or employment center. Typically, a member makes a reservation in advance, lets him or herself into the vehicle with a personal card or key, and drives away. When the person is done using the car, she returns the car to its home parking space, locks it, and leaves it for the next carsharer.
The benefits of carsharing can include:
· More careful consideration of the necessity, duration, and distance of automobile trips, resulting in decreased vehicle use and ownership.
· Greater consideration given to alternative modes, resulting in increased transit ridership, biking, and walking.
· Cost savings to individuals and employers.
· Energy savings and air quality benefits.
· Reduced parking demand at participating transit stations, member employer sites, and residential locations.
Due to its many potential benefits, carsharing is gaining in popularity, as demonstrated by increasing North American membership.
- As of January 1, 2014, there were 19 active programs in Canada, 24 in the United States (U.S.), one program in Mexico and one program in Brazil totaling approximately 1,462,056 carsharing members sharing 21,459 vehicles in the Americas.
- As of January 1, 2014, 19 Canadian operators claimed 224,523 members and shared 4,174 vehicles. In the U.S., 1,228,573 members shared 17,179 vehicles among 24 operators.
- In Mexico, 5,634 member shared 50 vehicles among one operator as of January 1, 2014. In Brazil, one operator claimed 3,326 members sharing 56 vehicles.