Friends with ben­e­fits ... why Scot­land has be­come a na­tion of car-shar­ers

SPE­CIAL RE­PORT

Sunday Herald - - NEWS - BY PETER SWIN­DON

MORE Scots com­muters than ever are shar­ing their jour­ney to work with col­leagues to cut costs and car emis­sions ac­cord- ing to new fig­ures.

There has been an 80 per cent in­crease in “lift-shar­ing” in just five years with some ex­perts put­ting the surge down to shows like James Cor­den’s Car­pool Karaoke and Peter Kay’s Car Share. The new fig­ures have been re­leased ahead of Na­tional Lift­share Week.

Cor­den’s show sees celebri­ties join him for a sing-a-long in a car while he drives in one of Amer­ica’s high-oc­cu­pancy ve­hi­cle lanes, while Kay wrote and starred in his Bafta award-win­ning sit­com which saw him play a su­per­mar­ket worker who finds love while driv­ing a col­league to work.

Na­tional Lift­share Week be­gins to­mor­row and fig­ures re­leased by the UK’s big­gest car-shar­ing com­mu­nity, lift­share.com, show a grow­ing num­ber of Scots are com­mut­ing to­gether by car.

In 2002, when the con­cept was launched, there were only 61 par­tic­i­pants. That fig­ure rose to 13,526 by 2012 and this year the num­ber of peo­ple signed up stands at 24,351, an 80 per cent in­crease in five years.

The scheme’s reach is Scot­land-wide and six of the seven Re­gional Trans­port Part­ner­ships (RTPs) are now clients of lift­share.com.

Lisa Free­man, strat­egy and projects of­fi­cer with South East of Scot­land Trans­port Part­ner­ship, which runs its own car-shar­ing scheme, said celebrity en­dorse­ments have con­trib­uted to the growth.

She said: “Car-shar­ing has seen a great rise in pop­u­lar­ity thanks to re­cent celebrity en­dorse­ments by James Cor­den and Peter Kay. Cor­den, joined by a host of dif­fer­ent celebri­ties, has made car-shar­ing cool with his Car­pool Karaoke, while Kay in­jects hu­mour into car-shar­ing jour­neys in his BBC sit­com Peter Kay’s Car Share.

“Car-shar­ing is a great way to re­duce costs of driv­ing, it can also re­duce the need for car own­er­ship – you don’t even need to own your own car to car share. Many mem­bers are happy to car share in re­turn for a small con­tri­bu­tion to­wards costs and some friendly com­pany for their jour­ney.

“Mem­ber­ship in Ed­in­burgh and around the south­east has now risen to over 8,000 peo­ple.”

The Scot­tish Greens’ trans­port spokesman, John Fin­nie MSP, also backs car shar­ing. He said: “Con­sid­er­ing the trans­port fig­ures pub­lished by the Govern­ment this week show a con­tin­ued rise in car use, it’s pleas­ing that car-shar­ing is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar.

“It’s def­i­nitely one way to off­set one of the most pol­lut­ing forms of trans­port.”

Com­muters who car-share ev­ery day can save an es­ti­mated £1,000 a year, ac­cord­ing to lift­share.com head of mar­ket­ing Caro­line Mayer. She said: “We’re see­ing a grow­ing in­ter­est in lift shar­ing as an al­ter­na­tive way to travel, par­tic­u­larly for com­muters.”

Mayer added: “Six of the seven Scot­tish Re­gional Trans­port Part­ner­ships of­fer lift-share schemes so that com­muters all over Scot­land can share their car jour­neys.

“Lift­share Week is all about en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to give shar­ing a try and dis­cover all the ben­e­fits for them­selves.”

The part­ner­ship is pro­mot­ing its car-shar­ing scheme at Trip­shareSes­tran.com dur­ing the week.

Free­man added: “We will be en­gag­ing with com­muters pro­mot­ing Trip­share and get­ting them to sign up via our street teams, hav­ing some fun and cre­at­ing a so­cial me­dia buzz.”

The TV shows Car­pool Karaoke with James Cor­den, in­set, and Peter Kay’s Car Share have con­trib­uted to the rise in lift shar­ing

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