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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Other reasons for renting a car included: · Ability to use the car at will no reservation process better avail- ability at the last minute when I need a car · Business trips out of town car-sharing is not available every- where · One-way long-distance trips · Mode that costs less for that particular trip · Vacations and long weekends can't book car-sharing cars for that long · Work-related trip and the company already has arrangements with a rental car company. These comments are highly consistent with the results of the focus groups, in which respondents reported that renting cars made more sense for long trips, one-way trips, and trips to other cities for business or vacation pur- poses. But most car-sharing members disliked "the hassle of renting cars" and would gladly use car-sharing for longer trips or one-way trips if these options were available. Another compliment to car-sharing in contrast to renting was "The cars are nice too. They're not your typical rental cars." 4.4Transportation Costs Potential Impacts While car-sharing has been cited as a way for households and businesses to lower their transportation costs, it is difficult to generalize given different expenditure and travel patterns. In the example shown in Exhibit 4-8, the threshold below which car-sharing is cheaper is about 5,000 miles per year. However, this threshold will vary considerably depending on: · The degree to which travel patterns change e.g. if transit, walk- ing or cycling substitutes for some trips previously made by auto- mobile · The fee structure of the car-sharing operator, and the overall level of charges · The proportion of driving costs accounted for by car-sharing, and the degree to which rental cars and taxis are used where these would be cheaper for a given trip · The out-of-pocket costs of vehicle ownership, which may differ markedly from the AAA estimates particularly if there are no car payments or finance charges outstanding, or (in the other direc- tion) if residents have to pay for parking Page 4-31
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Chapter 4 · Impacts of Car-Sharing · The degree to which vehicle use can be shifted for example, if the primary vehicle can be used more intensively in households where car-sharing replaces a second car Similar factors will affect potential savings from businesses that replace fleet vehicles with a car-sharing membership. This is a more complex area, and many organizations find it difficult to account for the total costs of manag- ing vehicle fleets. Some organizations such as the cities of Philadelphia and Berkeley calculate significant cost savings, and these are discussed in Section 5.5, Local Government, and Section 5.7, Employers and Businesses. Empirical Evidence The impacts of car-sharing on transportation costs have attracted little atten- tion from researchers. There are, however, some exceptions. The first-year evaluation of CarSharing Portland found that members estimated they saved $154 per month in transportation costs. According to surveys of PhillyCar- Share members, 40% say that car-sharing has saved them money, while about 16% are choosing to spend more (Lane, 2005). Average savings, for those who could quantify the amount, were $2,059 annually. Zipcar claims an average of $435 in monthly savings from replacing vehicle ownership with car-sharing, for those members that report a saving (Zipcar, 2005). In general, it can be assumed that most households and businesses will approach this decision in a rational, economic manner, and not substitute car-sharing for vehicle ownership if it would increase their driving costs. Many car-sharing operators provide web-based cost calculators to assist members in making the comparison (Exhibit 4-3). Results from the internet survey showed low levels of expenses on car-shar- ing on a monthly basis: the average per month expenditure for car-shar- ing was reported to be $61.26; the median was reported to be $40.50. The minimum was $1.00 and the maximum reported was $500 per month. (We assume that all of these costs were out-of-pocket costs and did not include annualized membership fees or deposits.) Eighty-seven percent of respon- dents paid for all costs themselves. Seven percent split the costs with their employers; in 2.5% of all reports, the employer paid all costs, and a similar number had some other arrangement (such as splitting costs with someone else or writing off the costs as a business expense). Some focus group members reported savings of $100 or more that they at- tributed to using car-sharing instead of alternative modes. Other focus group Page September 2005 4-32