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Car sharing spurring fundamental travel changes, says UC Berkeley study

– San Francisco Bay Area's City CarShare, a non-profit car sharing organization, is showing measurable impacts in reducing vehicular travel, individual transportation costs, private car ownership and environmental hazards, according to a new University of California, Berkeley, report.

The findings by Robert Cervero, a professor of city and regional planning with UC Berkeley's Institute of Urban and Regional Development, represent the latest in his three-year evaluation of City CarShare's effects on travel, car ownership, the environment, parking and the quality of life in various neighborhoods.

When car sharing programs first began, positive social, economic and environmental effects were touted as potential outcomes, and Cervero's study, financed by the Federal Highway Administration's Value Pricing Program, shows that many hoped-for benefits have occurred.

"At the start, CarShare members were drawn mostly from the ranks of environmentalists and avid cyclists," Cervero said. "Over time, the program has attracted a more mainstream clientele. Because of economic benefits realized by users of City CarShare, it is gaining a loyal following."

Among his findings:

* Since joining, 30 percent of CarShare households have sold one or more of their privately owned cars.

* Some 67 percent of the CarShare members have chosen not to purchase an additional car.

* Most trips were made outside of peak travel hours.

* Shopping is the most common purpose for a CarShare trip.

* In San Francisco, 84 percent of the cases surveyed indicate that car sharing was less costly than renting cars or taking taxis.

* Overall per-capita automobile travel among City CarShare members has dropped 47 percent, while use of public transit, walking and bicycling by CarShare members has increased.

* City CarShare is saving 13,000 miles of vehicle travel, 720 gallons of gasoline, and 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each day.

"Collectively, these results suggest that car sharing helps to shrink the urban transport sector's ecological footprint in cities like San Francisco," Cervero said in his report.

"Our mission is to promote carsharing as a means to reduce automobile dependence and to improve our urban neighborhoods," said City CarShare Executive Director Larry Magid. "This is the data we've been waiting for-it proves that we are indeed achieving those goals. We are expanding our operations to bring the benefits to more and more people."

Members of City CarShare, who live throughout the Bay Area, pay a $300 deposit, $30 application fee and a $10-a-month administrative fee. They are free to reserve a car in City CarShare's fleet, paying $4 an hour and 45 cents per mile, including gasoline. There is a $2 charge for use during off-peak hours, 10 p.m.-8 a.m.. Member fees cover maintenance, insurance and gas. Cars are kept in designated lots and returned to one of those lots after use.

Cervero based his research on City CarShare reservation and use records, as well as travel diary surveys of CarShare users, and analyses of personal, household and car ownership information. Surveys also were conducted with a statistical control group.

City CarShare provides its service in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Palo Alto and on the UC Berkeley campus. More information is available at the City CarShare website at: http://www.citycarshare.org/.