Best planning and implementation toolbox


Purpose of Tool:
In some urban areas, if you do not need to own a car but could sometimes benefit from the use of one for short periods of time, from an hour or two up to a full day, then car-sharing may be attractive. Car-sharing programs provide pre-qualified drivers with 24-hour a day access to a network of cars (usually located in parking lots throughout a city) on a pay-per-use or “as needed” basis. These programs are typically run by a rental agency, cooperative, or not-for-profit entity. Car-sharing provides flexibility for drivers that primarily rely on their car for occasional short trips, dedicated tasks, and errands. Car-sharing programs are ideal for drivers that log less than 7,500 miles per year and don’t require a car for work or commuting, because they are more cost-effective than ownership. Research suggests that car-sharing participants save thousands of dollars per year, while reducing their contribution to pollution and congestion.1

Benefits of Using Tool:

Priority parking for car-sharing is provided in the United Kingdom.
[ Source ]
Car-sharing programs are especially designed to appeal to city dwellers who don’t drive enough to justify the expense and hassle of owning a car, but don’t want to give up the flexibility of a personal auto. 95 percent of car-sharing program participants are currently located in core metropolitan areas2. By utilizing a car-sharing program in lieu of a private car, the following benefits for a community or region at large can be observed:
  • Less traffic congestion and reduced pollutants such as smog, CO2 and other green house gas (GHG) emissions,
  • A flexible and cost-effective alternative transportation mode, particularly in areas that are not well served by public transit,
  • Encouraging the use of alternate transportation modes for non-essential car trips, such as biking or walking, and
  • Providing an important mobility option for drivers, without creating or exacerbating parking shortages.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    Car-sharing originated in Europe in the late 980s and came to North America (specifically, Quebec City, Canada) in 1993. By 2008, there were car-sharing programs operating in 18 cities across the United States. Car-sharing programs can be structured as cooperative, for-profit or not-for-profit entities. Typically, they utilize an on-line reservation system and require a membership or registration fee. Steps for use include the following:

  • The car is reserved online or by phone more than one hour before use and is paid for by the hour or by mileage.
  • A ‘smart card’ or other remote entry system allows access to a car which is always parked in a reserved space at the same location (usually in an off-street lot that is easily accessible).
  • The user then returns the car to the same location and locks it with the smart card.
  • Provisions for fuel and insurance are typically included in the price of membership.

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    A variety of incentives and targeted marketing efforts can increase participation in car-sharing programs. Offering car-sharing participants increased flexibility (such as allowing for one-way trips), awarding dedicated lane privileges or queue jump priority similar to a HOV or carpool lane program, waiving tolls, and/or offering priority parking choices to shared car users, will help increase the exposure of car-sharing programs and encourage participation across the country, perhaps even outside of major urban centers.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    Typically, car-sharing programs are run by independent operators but can help achieve many of the goals of partner organizations, such as developers, businesses, local governments, transit agencies, and universities. Greater collaboration between these entities can be encouraged through the adoption of supportive policies and regulations such as zoning incentives and inclusion of car-sharing provisions in environmental, transportation and corporate sustainability plans. This support can increase participation in a car-sharing program. Areas with low vehicle ownership rates have been shown to be the best predictor of a strong market for car-sharing3.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:

    Reserved parking for I-GO car-sharing vehicles is provided in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.
    [ Source ]
    The I-GO not-for-profit car-sharing program in Chicago has enjoyed great success during its four years of operation. I-GO car sharing participants reported driving only an average of 9.6 miles per week, or 500 miles per year, compared to the typical car owner in Chicago who drives 10,000 miles per year4. Furthermore, each I-GO car replaces 17 cars on the road, and 45.9 percent of I-GO users gave up or postponed purchase of a vehicle or considered selling a vehicle due to their participation in I-GO5. Car sharing with I-GO costs the user a one-time application fee of $25 and an annual fee of $25, each use of an I-GO vehicle costs $6/hr and $.40/mile, or $8/hr with unlimited miles6. I-GO is a non-profit operation that relies on partnerships with other community organizations and user fees. I-GO has recently teamed with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to provide a joint smart card that can be used to gain access to I-GO vehicles and ride the CTA, promoting the use of public transportation by providing a range of convenient travel options for commuters7.

    I-GO Car Sharing
    2125 W North Ave
    Chicago, IL 60647
    Phone: (773) 278-4446

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Car-sharing programs have a range of benefits ranging from environmental (reducing vehicle travel) to economic (increasing mobility for low-income households). Research suggests that car-sharing programs improve the availability of parking and reduce overall car ownership; an average of 21 percent of members gives up a vehicle after joining a car-sharing program8. It is estimated that with the introduction of each car-sharing vehicle, 15 cars are “taken off” the road. In general, car-sharing causes overall vehicle miles traveled ((VMT) by participating drivers to decrease by 63 percent. Coupled with the fact that car-sharing vehicles often are smaller and/or alternatively fueled, additional savings are realized in green house gas (GHG) emissions9.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
    See the following sources for more information:
  • The Car-Sharing Network, Online:
  • A.Millard-Ball, G. Murray et al, Transportation Cooperative Research Program, Report 108: Car-Sharing Where and How it Succeeds, 2005. PDF:


    1 Online:
    2 Transportation Cooperative Research Program, Report 108: Car-Sharing Where and How it Succeeds, 2005, page ES-3.
    3 Transportation Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), Report 108: Car-Sharing Where and How it Succeeds, 2005, page ES-3.
    4 I-GO Car Sharing, Green Matters, Online:
    5 I-GO Car Sharing, Green Matters, Online:
    6 I-GO Car Sharing, Pricing, Online:
    7 Chicago Transit Authority, CTA Launches Joint Smart Card Program with I-GO Car Sharing, January 2009.
    8 TCRP, page 4-7.
    9 TCRP, pages 4-11, 4-17 and 4-22.