‘Car Sharing’ Picks Up Speed in Poor Economy

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Imagine no monthly car payments, no car insurance, no repair bills and no need to fill up at the gas station.
Those are just some of the ideas behind car-sharing, an innovative program that can now be found in many cities across the U.S.
In Denver, Josh Davies is one of several thousand residents who take advantage of car sharing.     

Davies said it's a simple plan that fits into his daily life. When he needs a car he reserves one using his cell phone, sometimes a day ahead and sometimes just minutes before. 

He then picks the vehicle up from one of multiple locations around the city and then returns it several hours later for an hourly charge.      

For Davies and his wife, it's been an easy change. They live in downtown Denver and wanted to do something good both for the environment -- and their pocketbook. 
Car sharing has meant the couple needs to own only one car.

"It's just a lot of money that you spend needlessly for a second automobile, so that's why we decided to go with car-share," Davies explained.
The couple is not alone.  The practice started in Europe and is now picking up traction in the United States. 

Car sharing expanded here by 16 percent in the last year. In cities from New York to San Francisco, more than half a million people are registered to use an estimated 7,000 car share cars.

"Our members are early adopters, environmentalists, families that are watching their pennies," the CarSharing Association's Graham Hill said.
Hill admits the model works best for urban dwellers, who also have transit and bike options. That's because the cars are typically placed in downtown locations and members pay by the hour -- so shorter trips are better.
Davies and his wife say that for them the environmental pay-off and the savings make it a win-win.

"Typically, I'm using it for an hour or two hours at a time," Davies told CBN News. "I'll go drive for a meeting somewhere and bring it right back. So, it's costing me around $20 per trip that I use it and I maybe use it two or three times a month."
It's not uncommon, Hill said, for families that car share to drop a car. That also helps reduce congestion, pollution, and eventually could reduce demand for parking.

"We are really aiming for the family that might have two or three cars and they could maybe reduce that," Hill said.
If you're not in the mood to rent a car in Denver, you can rent a bike -- and that is perhaps the ultra-green way to go here.

For More Information:

The CarSharing Association

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Heather Sells

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