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New Forms of Car Sharing Improve Personal Mobility

Smartphone technology, increased connectivity and the presence of social networks empower individuals to embark on a new era of personal mobility. Photo by carpooling.com.

Earlier last month we wrote about how the “Millennial” generation prefers the comfort and ease of car-sharing programs to car ownership. Today, there is further evidence to the growing culture of car sharing among 18- to 24-year-olds. According to a survey conducted by Carpooling.com, three quarters of this age group agreed that they would rather live without their car than their smartphone.

Carpooling.com is Europe’s largest network of car sharing. Through the company’s website and mobile phone apps, users can offer available seats and passengers can book a ride. In 2011, the company helped mobilize 1 million people every month, with an average distance of 200 kilometers (124 miles) per ride. Carpooling.com has 3.5 million registered users and the number of rides taken through the network is rising every year. Since 2010, for example, the number of rides increased by 320 percent in France and by 180 percent in Italy.

Explains the company:

“Empowered by increased connectivity, smartphone technology and the proliferation of social networks, 2011 marked the beginning of new era of mobility. The growth in popularity of ridesharing platforms underscored a major paradigm shift in the way we experience transport. Moving millions across borders and across countries, carpooling networks have transformed the traditional commute to work into a vibrant form of peer-to-peer transport. Today, people are more willing to share, more mobile and more prepared to adapt their travel habits to ecological concerns – a trend that will continue to grow in 2012….

With more than 1 billion cars in the world, traffic congestion is becoming an increasingly problematic issue – causing significant fuel wastage, increased pollution and costing billions to the world economy. By 2050, the average urban dweller will spend roughly 106 hours (or 4.4 days) a year stuck in traffic jams – three times more than today. The ensuing pressure to devise more efficient and more flexible transport systems has resulted in a significant surge in popularity for new forms of sustainable mobility such as carpooling and ridesharing platforms.”

In addition to transporting 1 million people every month last year, the company is also proud to announce that its services have saved 725,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equal to carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere by 140,000 acres of pine or fir forests. The company also boasts a record of having saved 375 million liters (99 million gallons) of gasoline.

Carpooling.com’s service is similar to the French car sharing service Buzzcar, which we wrote about here. Created by Robin Chase, the co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, Buzzcar allows individuals to rent their own cars through a smartphone application to other drivers in need of some temporary wheels.

What do you think of these newer versions of car sharing? Would you sign-up?

Do you know of similar programs in other parts of the world? Share with us in the comments section below.

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