The car share market has grown rapidly in recent years, both globally and in Australia. Until recently, Perth was the only Australian city without a scheme, but things are about to change. The RAC published a paper on the topic recently exploring the role car sharing can play in WA and some local councils are actively supporting car sharing through their policy framework. And it is not just talk, UWA launched the first car share scheme in WA in June and Perth based developer Psaros said it will be incorporating car sharing in it’s Perth projects.
Car sharing: why, why and how?
‘Car sharing, which originated in Europe, provides members with short-term access to motor vehicles for personal and business uses. In so doing, it provides members with the benefits of private cars without the costs and responsibilities of ownership and operation’ (RAC, 2015, p3).
The RAC published a paper recently titled “Exploring the role of car sharing in Perth”. This paper is a response to challenges such as a growing population and cost of living pressures which are affecting how we move around. Car sharing has been identified by the RAC as a real viable solution for cost of living pressures and congestion.
The RAC paper identifies a number of benefits of car sharing including reduced personal travel costs, support improved mobility, enhance viability of public transport, reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Car sharing can also have an impact on the urban form – more compact and connected.
Research shows that on average, a car is not used 96% of the time. One share car can take up to 9 private cars off the road. With an average cost of owning a car of $12,000, car sharing can provide real financial benefits.
Share car drivers take out a membership with a car share company. This provides access to their fleet of cars across the city, state and country. Users need to pre-register via mobile, ipad or computer and gain access to the car with a card or fob. Share cars can be parked in the street or in private car parks.
Amongst the success factors for a car share scheme are the specific location of the vehicles; the density of the car share network; the extent to which local governments, developers and land owners are supportive of car share; population density; and access to alternative transport for the daily work commute (RAC, 2015; Round, 2014).
Figure 1 – Car Operating Cost Survey. (Source: RAC, 2015, p8)
Car sharing in Perth
Car sharing will not work everywhere and Perth definitely has had its share of false starts. ‘While there are likely to be many reasons, issues around scalability, having the right operating systems to provide seamless and attractive service, lack of political support and policy instruments, and public perception will likely have been amongst the potential stumbling blocks’ (RAC, 2015, p9)
For some time, Perth was the only city in Australia without a car share scheme.
In June 2015 the University of Western Australia launched its car share scheme; a WA first. This program provides a bank of six rental cars on-site that students and staff can use. The aim is to help make more parking spaces available for students, staff and visitors.
Multi Award winning developer Psaros has also committed to supporting car sharing and will incorporate share cars in their Perth projects. Mike Enslin (Psaros) in an interview with Channel 9 News said “A car share scheme is a big community benefit, not just to residents of the development, but also for people living in the area which is part of our ethos in terms of what we do as developers”.
To support the availability of car share bays, both the City of Fremantle and City of Vincent have a (draft) car share policy. The City of Vincent views car sharing as an alternative to private vehicle ownership and a valuable component of a sustainable transport system. They recently consulted the community on a new proposed policy which would facilitate and support the introduction and operation of car sharing within its municipal boundaries through the allocation of car shapes (on-street and in City-owned car parks), permission for car share spaces in private property, and enforcement of car share spaces. The City of Fremantle has already updated such a policy.
Demand for car sharing in Perth
In Perth, the RAC identified a number of areas with have potential for a car share scheme. The greatest potential have Belmont, Fremantle, Subiaco and Perth, followed by South Perth, Vincent, Cambridge and Victoria Park.
The RAC found that ‘there was a stronger interest in reducing the number of vehicles in their household amongst those who would be interested in joining a car sharing service’.
Figure 2 – Likelihood of using a car sharing service by postcode area (percentage). (Source: RAC, 2015, p7)
With increased density in the inner city areas, improvements in alternative transport options (particulary to work) and active support from (some) local governments and developers, the market for car sharing could be taking off in Perth. The RAC concluded that ‘the scale of the service(s), availability of vehicles and raising awareness about the true cost of vehicle ownership could help to make car sharing a more attractive proposition’ (RAC, 2015, p8).
RAC (2015). Exploring the role of car sharing in Perth. Online: http://rac.com.au/cs/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&dDocName=RACSTG061758&allowInterrupt=1&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&noSaveAs=1
Round, L (2014). Is Perth ready for car sharing? Paper presented at AITPM conference. Online:http://www.aitpm.com.au/ArticleDocuments/249/Transport_Planning_Session_11-Louise_Round_Is_Perth_ready_for_car_sharing.pdf.aspx?Embed=Y
The Fifth Estate (17 July 2015). Is Melbourne about to kill car share? Online: http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/politics/local-government/is-melbourne-about-to-kill-car-share/75614?utm_source=The+Fifth+Estate+-+newsletter&utm_campaign=270c0a1e34-16_July_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5009254e4c-270c0a1e34-30768309
UWA University News (3 June 2015). WA first – UWA colleges begin car sharing. Online:http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201506037670/students/wa-first-uwa-colleges-begin-car-sharing