Life’s more fun when you share. The phrase used by Liftshare is more relevant now than ever as the “sharing economy” grows in popularity. Since its launch in 2006, TripshareSEStran.com has joined a plethora of apps and websites which encourages users to share different parts of their lives; sharing resources rather than outright ownership. Brands such as AirBnB, Uberpool and Borrow my Doggy allow people to share everything from their home to their pet. Car sharing has also seen a rise in popularity thanks to recent celebrity endorsements by James Corden and Peter Kay. Cordon, joined by a host of different celebrities, has made car sharing cool with his Carpool Karaoke whilst Kay injects humour into car sharing in his BBC sitcom. Even in Edinburgh and South East Scotland, membership of Tripshare has risen to more than 8,800 people.
Funded by the South East Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran), Tripshare is the region’s fastest-growing car share scheme, linking car drivers or passengers who are making similar journeys and wish to share the costs.
Many people are car sharing to cut the cost of motoring and travel. Car sharing also allows people who cannot afford their own vehicle access to a car. A typical commuter can save almost £1,000 a year (based on two people sharing a regular Monday- Friday commuting trip). Many members say membership of Tripshare has enabled them to get lifts to jobs that they would not have otherwise been able to access due to the financial burden associated with travel.
An Edinburgh Park-based member noted the value of Tripshare during the Forth Road Bridge closure at the end of 2015: “Living in a rural area, public transport just wasn’t an option to me. My employer was very supportive and allowed me to work from home two days out of the working week. But, for the days I had to be at work, Tripshare helped me to save money on the additional miles on my journey due to the bridge closure.”
Car sharing provides new opportunities – whether it is to services that were not previously accessible, or allowing organisations to save on business miles and costly car park spaces. There is even anecdotal evidence that car sharing staff are more punctual and alert when they arrive at work than non-sharing staff.
Not only does Tripshare reduce members’ travel costs, it can reduce the need for car ownership – you don’t even need to own your own car to car share. Many Tripshare SEStran members are happy to car share in return for a small contribution towards costs and some friendly company for their journey.
Reducing the number of cars, especially single occupancy vehicles, from our roads is a high priority for the Region’s Transport Partnership, SEStran. Fewer people behind the wheel of a car means lower carbon emissions and it helps create more liveable communities due to reduced traffic and demand on parking.
Tomorrow is World Car Free Day. It aims to make people less dependent on their cars for one day by encouraging them to leave their car at home.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, SEStran Chair and Edinburgh Transport Convener, said: “Car-sharing plays an integral part in developing a cleaner, greener and more sustainable transport system. It is a convenient alternative to private car ownership, all the while helping to reduce congestion and the harmful effects of vehicle emissions on our environment. Car Free Day is an opportunity to question and raise awareness of the way we travel on a day-to-day basis and consider alternative and more sustainable methods. If people who routinely drove to work shared their journey just once a week it would take up to 20 per cent of cars off the region’s roads.”
Tripshare could provide those driving on their own a more sustainable, economic and social way of getting from A to B. Driving alone can be an isolating experience and the social element of car sharing is important. As well as gaining access to opportunities that might otherwise have proved difficult or impossible to reach, individual car-sharers report that the interaction with their car-sharing partners has led to new friendships, opportunities and knowledge.
Individual members can stipulate specific needs for their journeys including preferred routes, passenger gender, smoking or non-smoking, accessibility requirements and so on. All information is held in strict confidence and only shared when the member allows it within the system. Thousands of people across South East Scotland are already enjoying the benefits of regular car sharing, through TripshareSEStran.com, so why not give it a try?
Lisa Freeman is Strategy Liaison Officer, SEStran. National Climate Week runs from 16-23 September, sign-up for car-sharing at Tripsharesestran.com