29 October 2005

Carsharing and Sustainable Transportation: 2005-2007

Note: The following builds on an oral presentation made as part of the final wrap-up that I was asked to present to a conference that took place in Brussels on 27/28 January 2005 under the title 'Keys to Car-Sharing: moving the city of tomorrow'. I was recently asked to go back to my notes and take a stab at putting in writing the main points made in that closing presentation. Which is what follows here. . (Your critical comments and remarks are as always energetically solicited.)

Carsharing and Sustainable Transportation:

Overview and recommendations for 2005-2007

Eric Britton, The Commons, Paris, France, 29 Oct. 2005

New Mobility Agenda & the World Carshare Consortium

http://www.newmobility.org and http://worldcarshare.com

1. Take Kyoto seriously

a. Transport accounts for 50% or more of all emissions in most cities, but there is nothing going on under the Kyoto Protocols or internationally that indicates that this challenge is being addressed and met.[1]

b. We propose that the European Commission and Union take an aggressive “point role” in creating a strategy and mechanism for Kyoto Compliance in the broad and as yet untended area of city transport.

c. Within this broader context, carsharing, got right, can make a contribution to help our cities move closer toward “Kyoto Compliance”

d. And that specifically in the next stage of work and activity to build on the moses results, that carsharing be targeted as an important “Kyoto Compliance tool”.

2. Carsharing offers a practical tool in the transition to sustainable transport.

a. With several decades of experience and operations now ongoing in more than five hundred places world wide, carsharing has passed beyond the stage of limited demonstration to practical reality.

b. Carsharing is both a viable transportation option -- and a potentially powerful sustainability tool in itself. But no less important it has its place as one strategic component of a multi-level alternative (to private car) transportation in cities.

c. We are seeing cases in which carsharing is acting as a catalyst for much broader forms of cooperation and creative interaction not only across the transport field but also in other important ways as well (community building, public health, etc.)

d. Only the leading systems with several years of operational experience can recommend themselves for serious study and replication in other places, but there are now several dozen of these and the strong systems are increasingly well known and acknowledged.

e. There is also a fast growing base of carsharing business and policy expertise, and both new start-ups and existing CSOs in the search for continuing improvements will do well to take full advantage of this expertise.

3. Planning and Support:

a. To do their full job, carsharing projects and programs must be framed and supported within the context of a broad-based multi-level sustainable transport strategy and program.

b. It is critical that projects be actively supported by local government and brought along with close working relationships with other transportation suppliers, including other public transporters, rail, air, taxis, car rental and more.

c. And for them to work, CSOs must be able to perform as well run businesses with a strong entrepreneurial sense and able to meet tough (and open) accounting and performance standards.

4. The EU Kyoto City Transportation Initiative, Carsharing component: – Public Target Setting

a. Build on the experience not only of the moses program of these last years, but also that of the world carshare movement more generally (which you can find documented in http://worldcarshare.com as well as a number of European, national and regional programs which have taken hold in recent years).

b. Set specific (and very ambitious) quantitative goals for xxx CSO’s in yyy cities, with zzz users.

c. Tighten time horizon:

· The first set of very ambitious objectives for period 2005-2008

· A second for the remainder of the Kyoto target: 2008-2012.

· The stress should be on this first and tighter time horizon.

5. Focus on Projects and Results:

a. Mechanisms to support work to help in development of properly prepared new carshare projects

b. Strategic support for reinforcing and extending existing successful CSOs

c. Tighter links of carshare planning and operations to overall sustainable transportation agenda and actions

d. “Active research”: Each ongoing project and operation is in effect a research platform for management information and feedback, including to other carshare and sustainable transport operations and projects. This needs to be further stressed.

6. International Partnerships and new forms of Public/Private cooperation

a. EU experience: The moses program is but one of many that need to be critically examined now and studied for materials and guidelines for future development and expansion of the carshare sector.

b. UITP: The proposed Carshare Platform of the UITP is an interesting move in the right direction. But it is only one; many more are required in other areas.

c. WBCSD: Invite the members of the Sustainable Mobility Initiative of the World Business Counsel for Sustainable Development to get directly involved in supporting specific projects with local partners in specific cities and projects.

d. International, regional and national carshare groups: In addition to the World Carshare Consortium that has been existence for more than a dozen years internationally, there are also important regional and national carshare groupings across Europe which provide valuable centers of information and expertise which need to be brought into and built on.

7. Public Entrepreneurship:

a. We need to be able to create and demonstrate new models of “public entrepreneurship”, which are associated with all the energy and rigor that traditionally have been hallmarks of the business community at its best.

b. These skills are needed both at the level of specific projects and operations, and more generally at various levels of government in which committed individuals and groups are ready to develop the expertise needed to ensure the success of this combination of public policy and private practice.

8. Bankable Projects:

a. Old habits die hard: The transport sector in cities is heavily regulated making effective innovation often close to impossible. If we are ever to achieve the new multi-level transportation arrangements that are needed for sustainability, this situation has got to change.

b. Experience suggests that there is plenty of room for aggressive private sector involvement in the carsharing sector, but it also has to be said that the transportation sector in cities is one that provides many barriers to innovation and sound business practices.

c. One of the main jobs of local government has to be that of “getting out of the way” of the entrepreneurs once the necessary structural and operational agreements and guidelines have been set.

d. Another has to be to ensure the inter-agency and other forms of cooperation with the public sector that is needed in each case if the CSO is to reach its full success.

e. Public support for CSOs must take into account environmental and other savings (externalities) – for which an appropriate analytic framework and criteria are yet to be devised. The creation of such a framework should be a near term priority, and should be carried out not as a bench or theoretic project but in cooperation with an initial group of coopering operators and public authorities.

9. EU Kyoto Implementation Grants Program – Transport in Cities/Carsharing – ˆ 5 Million

a. We propose that the EU set aside as a high emergency priority a fund of five million Euros in externally administered single amount one-time grants to new and existing carsharing operations, mainly within the EU region.

b. These grants will be of a standard ˆ 50k each, based on a short application following detailed guidelines, supported by at least two independent recognized international carshare experts, and with full supporting documentation as appropriate.

c. They will support both new start-ups which area able to show themselves as well prepared and with specific justified uses for the funds, as well as ‘second round’ support for existing CSOs to support specific expansion or necessary supporting projects.

d. This amount of money will support on the order of 100 such grants (with a further set aside of 5% of the total for program support expenses).

e. Grant recipients will be required to report briefly on how these funds are used and the results given, with the necessary comprehensive information to be posted both on their own web sites and internationally so that the results can be made universally available.

f. Where justified “twinned projects” can be framed in cities in the Accession Countries, paired grants may be in order.

g. Especial attention will be given to projects with women in leadership roles, as well as services targeting people with mobility handicaps and others living in poorly served areas.

h. Parallel or linked projects involving public spaces, active transport, group taxis and the like will also receive favorable consideration.

10. Next steps:

  • Network discussions in an attempt to put some better sense in the above, and then to start to define the mechanisms needed in order to begin to implement.

[1] See the Kyoto World Cities Challenge Initiative at http://newmobility.org for more on this.


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