Does sharing cars really reduce car use?

June 27, 2017

The average car sits unused for more than 90% of the time, carries on average just one and a half people and costs, on average, €6,500 a year to own and run. Each car occupies 150m2 of urban land and still this is not the full bill  – congestion costs the EU economy €100 billion annually. The convenience that made the car a 20th century icon has been eroded by its popularity.

Now digitisation and the sharing economy provide the opportunity to reduce the number of vehicles in our cities by up to an order of magnitude and end the appalling costs of pollution, accidents and congestion caused by excessive car ownership and use.

But the transition will not be a painless or easy one as shared and privately-owned cars initially compete for space and better utilisation producing positive but modest benefits. However, the ultimate prize, to reclaim our streets from car domination, would transform the quality of urban living.

Concerns that sharing schemes do not deliver a net reduction in car use are not supported by the overwhelming majority of the evidence that shows ride-sharing apps do reduce the numbers of vehicles on the road and vehicle kilometres driven. But, as important, ride-sharing apps also encourage a behavioural shift towards multi-modal, sustainable transport which complements public and active forms of transport (cycling and walking). Furthermore, while long-distance car-sharing services do compete with rail and coach services they also significantly increase car occupancy and reduce emissions per kilometre.

To ease and accelerate the transition to shared vehicles the legacies of car domination must be progressively erased.

There are four key steps. Read them in the downloadable pdf below.

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