Thoughts on Car Sharing

Have you heard of ride share, car share or peer-to-peer car sharing programs? Does Zipcar ring a bell, or even our local backcountryride.com?  These types of programs are prevalent in large cities and at universities; they boast an astounding 15 million car sharing members in North America.  Though there seems to be a niche they could fill in our small town as well.  CarSharing-ReduceEmissions-ZipCarHave you ever had a job at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort while living in Victor?  If you have a weekend shift you are out of luck for public transportation, the START bus only runs Monday-Friday.  Or have you ever had a shift ending in Teton Village at 11:00pm, just missing the 10:45pm bus but still 40 minutes away from the last one?  Wouldn’t it be nice to connect with others who happen to be going over Teton Pass at the same time?

(These examples are in no way meant to reflect negatively on the START bus system, they are simply illustrating occasions in which our public transportation system has limitations.  The START bus fills a very crucial need in the community with over 800,000 riders annually.  There is a time and a place for different modes of transportation.) Living in a very environmentally conscious community, many people would prefer not to drive their vehicle solo, especially for longer trips.  An additional wide-spread program could supplement our already existing and successful system.

To better understand these programs we’re providing a brief description with links to example programs below.  A rideshare program is a system in which a person wishing to travel from point A to point B is connected with a driver going the same direction.  A car share program, such as Zipcar, is a membership-based company that offers vehicle reservations to its members.  The vehicles are company owned and located in practical locations throughout a city or town.  The hourly or daily rate includes driver’s insurance and fuel.   A peer-to-peer car-sharing program is a system to rent your personal vehicle out to people in your neighborhood.

There are many benefits to ride share and car sharing programs.  It is estimated that a single car sharing vehicle can replace as many as 15 personal vehicles. (Frost and Sullivan)  This adds up considering an internal combustion vehicle emits ~13,000 lbs of CO2 annually according to the Department of Energy.  Also, 13.5 to 54% of participants take public transit more than they did before they were members of a car sharing program.  And finally, according to a Zipcar survey, and incredible 40% of Zipcar members have given up ownership of a personal vehicle.

What do you think this town needs to fill the gap between START and driving a personal vehicle everywhere?  Do you think a ride share, car share or peer-to-peer sharing program is what this community needs?  Do you think we are fine the way we are?  If you think a program should exist, should we bring in an existing car share or ride share program, create our own, revamp backcountryride.com or Jackson Hole Radio classified ride share to be more user friendly?  Should the Department of Transportation run the program or a private business?  Maybe you have a completely different idea.  We would love to hear your thoughts.

Example Ride Share programs:

Example Car Share programs:

Example Peer-to-peer Car Sharing Programs:

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