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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 10:42 GMT
US move to car sharing
San Francisco traffic jam
Car-sharing schemes could help fight congestion
By the BBC's Maggie Shiels

US drivers should be able to cut costs by taking advantage of a car sharing scheme.

Already up and running in San Francisco, City CarShare wants to expand across the US and is expected to set up shop in Berkeley and Oakland later this year.

About 850 members share 31 cars under the federally funded non-profit scheme.

Now City CarShare wants to target businesses, who they say should make big savings if their employees take part in the scheme.

Jammed highways

America is the most motorised country in the world with over 213 million cars jamming up the nation's freeways, city streets and rural byways.

City CarShare believes that sharing cars should lead to greater social justice, providing greater access to transport for poor people, as well as enabling moves towards a more democratic economy as money circulates in the community instead of flowing to car makers.

"Everyone is really excited to be involved with it. I think there is this feeling they are involved with something new and hip," Annie Bourdon, outreach manager, told the BBC's World Business Report.

For a $300 deposit and a $10 monthly fee, users pay $2.50 an hour and 45 cents a mile.

Pick of cars

They get their pick of Volkswagen Beetles, family saloons and station wagens.

Included in the price is petrol, parking, insurance and maintenance.

One user said:"I am very interested in plans to make urban places environmentally more sustainable. I love cities and I have always been an environmental activist, being able to put those two things together I think is a really incredible gift."

Co-founder Kate White told the BBC's World Business Report: "Instead of owning your own car where you have all these upfront fixed costs and you kind of want to get your rmoney's worth... part of the rationale of carsharing is you thing about every trip and you think about how much gasoline and oil that you are using."

Business use

Most of its 1200 monthly reservations are for ordinary drivers, who want to 'borrow' a car for evenings or weekends.

However, signs are businesses - who reimburse their employees for car trips to clients - are interested.

James Chappell, president of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, believes the scheme makes "terrific business sense".

"A typical bill a month is $100 to $150 and that would compare with two or three times that what it would be if people were to use their own car," he said.

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The BBC's Maggie Shiels
"Six months on and the scheme certainly seems to be making inroads"
See also:

01 Nov 01 | Business
US car sales booming
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