Sharing and caring
September 2, 2014
Richard for 2011

Potts Point resident and frequent GoGet user DAWN HILLIER

Why own a car when you can hire one from the street? ... Car sharing now a part of the local lifestyle ... Over 2,300 users in 2011 alone ... And a new car share scheme on the way ... Gina Machado reports 

YOU can't have missed them: cars emblazoned with branding tucked smugly into some of the best parking spots on our streets. 

There are now about 70 share cars in residence in the 2011 postcode, the first arriving in Potts Point six years ago. They're available for use by people who sign-up with the car share operators, which include GoGetHertz 24/7 and GreenShareCar. 

Parking spaces for the vehicles are provided by the City of Sydney under its Car Sharing Policy, which was established after an initial trial in 2007.

Those designated spaces now represent approximately two percent of the total number of on-street spaces in the City's local government area.

Car share members are issued with a personal key card or fob, which connects to a dash-mounted reader. Drivers can book any available car in the fleet, collect it from a designated parking space and return it to that space at the end of the booking period.

Costs vary but start from about $10 an hour for casual plans. Fuel cards allow drivers to fill up on the provider's account. 

As you might expect, the fleets are made up mostly of small, economy cars such as Yaris, Corolla and i30.

Within postcode 2011, GoGet also provides a ute, a van, two Alfa MiTos and an Audi. Hertz 24/7 includes an X-Trail SUV and a Mini Cooper convertible.

According to Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo Community Village Profile, about 50 percent of households in the area don't have a car- a higher figure than the 40 percent across the rest of the City of Sydney. 

City of Sydney data indicates that the number of car share members has more than tripled over the past three years. 

Potts Point resident Dawn Hillier has been a GoGet member for nearly three years. She and her partner mostly use the service to get to triathlon training for shopping or visiting friends.

If a car share service wasn't available she's certain they'd have to own a car. She told Postcode2011: 

"The more we get used to using it, the more we use it. For most of our trips, it's quicker and cheaper than a taxi; an hour is cheaper than two train tickets. And it's easier than traditional car rental." 

Hillier would hire a care about five times a week, typically for three to four hours at a time. She has thought about getting her own car, but since neither she nor her partner use it to commute to work, they're sticking with the share scheme. 

"Probably the cost is not much different, but without the big outlay. Parking is a huge thing. I don't have parking with my apartment and it would be just too difficult around here."

A City of Sydney spokesperson told Postcode2011:

"An independent report by SGS Economics and Planning found that for every car share vehicle, car share members using that vehicle either sold or deferred buying 12 more vehicles." 

Hillier also loves the choice she has with shared cars: she uses small cars most often, a wagon when she and her partner are travelling with bikes, and has used a van when they were moving home.

She says the scheme gives her a sense of neighbourhood, is better for the environment and means there are fewer cars vying for limited parking spots. 

A dedicated car share space (sometimes nabbed by illegal parkers)

To have a dedicated parking space on the street is a great luxury, although there have been a few times when somebody has parked illegally in the space, which does create a hassle. 

There are other downsides to car sharing. Some argue that holding street parking for the exclusive use of share vehicles is restrictive for other residents and visitors and is harmful of local businesses.

However, the City of Sydney policy aims to match the allocation of spaces to demand and supports the share concept as an efficient use of street parking. 

The City of Sydney says that car sharing, "allows a single vehicle to be used by a large number of people. This reduces the number of cars on the road and the competition for parking spaces, which ultimately benefits all road users". 

Others report that heavy demand on weekends means it can be difficult to book a car at the last minute. Cars must also be returned to where they were collected, so there are no one-way trips. Pets aren't generally allowed (there are only two pet-friendly cars in the neighbourhood).

And a detour might be required to fill up if the fuel card provided isn't valid at the petrol station in Woolloomooloo. It's also more expensive than traditional car rental if hiring for more than a day.

Nonetheless, the fact that there are now about 2300 people using car share in the area speaks volumes for the success of the scheme. It's increasingly a part of inner-city life and looks set for even further expansion. 

The next wave of car sharing may be what's known as "neighbour to neighbour". Instead of a company-owned fleet, individual car owners offer their under-utilised vehicles for hire. One such service, Car Next Door, started in Bondi at the end of 2012. 

Will Davies, CEO of Car Next Door, is "mad keen to get heaps of cars in 2011".

He says residents here registered to use cars when they become available but no local owners have offered their vehicles, yet. For users in apartment buildings, the company can set up a "closed group" where only residents, who already have access to the parking area, can use the cars based there.

Davies says one building in Melbourne has three cars that were purchased by the owners' corporation to rent to residents on the system. 

In whatever way the car sharing model evolves, with government support, rapid growth in availability and access to schemes in Europe and North America while travelling, it's likely more locals, like Dawn Hillier, will forego owning a car.

From Gina Machado

Article originally appeared on Local news from postcode 2011 (http://postcode2011.com.au/).
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