Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Car rental schemes to reduce number of car trips?

When thinking about use of mass transit versus private car in the urban environment it is often believed that people use cars because they are more convenient, more stylish and give more freedom. But main reason – the expanses – is wrongly considered secondary.
If we look at car ownership cost report it is obvious that variable costs (fuel) on average make only 26% of total car ownership expanses while fixed costs (depreciation, interest, insurance, maintenance, repair, taxes) accounts for the rest.
Car ownership costs break down over five years. Source.
One doesn't need to be a genius to understand that using the car more gives significantly smaller per-km cost. In a situation when public transport can’t provide service for small number of trips (e.g. visiting countryside, traveling, deliveries) and consequently citizen needs a car, he will almost certainly use the private car on trips otherwise done by public transport and even not done at all just to reduce the per-km expanses of riding. Meanwhile mass transit – obviously having readership fees – turns out to be more expansive because keeps the car in standstill.
My idea is that government (or private investors) should prevent people from acquiring a car by introducing extensive and affordable car rental. It’s nothing new as some cities already have electric car hire schemes (similar to the widespread bike hire systems) but the main idea of these projects is increase usage of electric cars. If the goal is to reduce the car ownership than any type of engine will do. Those car rent stations should be in easily accessible sites near mass transit stations, P&R and mayor shopping malls; they should provide reliable and cheap 24/7 service, also offering vans and trailers for delivery purposes.