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Car sharing began about a decade ago in Boston. At the time, it was just a few people making themselves and their cars available to people without cars. Link-ups were done by cell phone.
The practice has grown exponentially since then. New car sales are down because many people, especially those living in urban areas, can easily share a ride inexpensively and shed the responsibilities of car ownership.
Street Blog USA, which follows such trends, quotes John Martin of the Southeastern Institute of Research saying that one of the most important reasons for this growth is social media. If you’re willing to share so much of your life on Facebook, for example, then you may be just as willing to share your car, too.
As for the riders, they’re mostly young and don’t seem to care whether they’re taking public or private transportation. These riders don’t shun taking buses, so it’s not surprising that car sharing, like that offered by Uber Technologies of San Francisco, is an attractive option.
Add to that encouragement from local governments, which have made car sharing easier with such services as establishing permanent parking spaces for shared cars and waiving high rental taxes on them.
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CleanTechnica says local governments recognize that car sharing means fewer cars on the streets. The website estimates that every shared car on the road actually reduces the overall number of cars in use by between nine and 13.
But is car sharing really working? Ask European taxi drivers. An estimated 30,000 cab and limousine drivers struck or simply gathered in the streets of cities from Milan to London and Madrid to Berlin on June 11, complaining that car sharing is threatening their jobs. They demanded that municipalities impose stricter restrictions on car-sharing drivers, who don’t need livery licenses costing up to 200,000 euros ($270,000).
Neelie Kroes, the European Commission vice president, urged calm, saying, “A strike won’t work. What we need is real dialogue where we talk about these disruptions caused by technology.”
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com