Car shar­ing: A choice for the en­vi­ron­ment

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - BUSINESS & FINANCE -

Pol­lu­tion and its main cause, traf­fic, have an un­de­ni­able and pro­foundly neg­a­tive im­pact on qual­ity of life. For mo­torists, the thought of fac­ing grid­locked traf­fic ev­ery day is of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by a sink­ing feel­ing of dread and anx­i­ety. Mo­tor traf­fic is re­spon­si­ble for a rise in air par­tic­u­late con­cen­tra­tions and their as­so­ci­ated reper­cus­sions – in fact, re­cent stud­ies show that chil­dren at­tend­ing schools in or near pol­lu­tion hotspots are far more likely to de­velop res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions and ill­nesses.

Ear­lier this year, the Na­tional Statis­tics Of­fice re­ported that some 47 newly reg­is­tered ve­hi­cles hit the roads ev­ery day. So it is clear that a change in at­ti­tude is re­quired if we are to de­cel­er­ate the dam­age that traf­fic is in­flict­ing on pub­lic health, in­fra­struc­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Now, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Trans­port Malta, the GoTo car-shar­ing scheme could help to trig­ger that seis­mic shift from com­plete re­liance on pri­vately owned cars to a cleaner, health­ier net­work of mixed mode trans­port.

Mak­ing travel cleaner

The key con­cept at play here is mixed mode or in­ter­modal com­mut­ing. This means that in­stead of re­ly­ing on a sin­gle form of trans­port (in most cases, a car you own) to get you from point A to point B, a com­bi­na­tion of two or more means is used in­stead.

These modes in­clude walk­ing, cy­cling, pub­lic trans­port, fer­ries, hired ve­hi­cles, shared cars and pri­vately owned cars. By en­sur­ing that a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of a jour­ney is made us­ing cleaner modes of trans­port, the over­all im­pact of that jour­ney is low­ered.

How car shar­ing helps

The idea of car shar­ing is sim­ple. In­stead of own­ing a car out­right, a per­son es­sen­tially rents a ve­hi­cle as and when s/he needs it. Re­cur­ring costs such as in­sur­ance, fuel and reg­u­lar main­te­nance are borne by the op­er­a­tor and not the cus­tomer.

Given that most cars spend the ma­jor­ity of the day parked in one lo­ca­tion, usu­ally out­side the work­place or home, this model means that users only pay for a car when they are ac­tu­ally driv­ing it and not when it is in a hard-won park­ing spot.

Car shar­ing in any form can help to re­duce traf­fic in the long-term as it of­fers users an al­ter­na­tive to car own­er­ship and en­cour­ages some out­side the box think­ing about trans­port. In­stead of im­me­di­ately pick­ing up the car keys, users will be more likely to think about how their jour­ney could be faster and/or cheaper if they opt for mixed trans­port.

How GoTo car shar­ing works

In a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort with Trans­port Malta, GoTo car shar­ing is al­ready chang­ing the way peo­ple get around the Mal­tese Is­lands, which helps the en­vi­ron­ment and im­proved pub­lic health at the same time.

The scheme is sim­ple. At any time of the day or night, a GoTo mem­ber can fire up the GoTo app and lo­cate the near­est GoTo car. There are 150 of these in cir­cu­la­tion at the mo­ment, parked in elec­tric charg­ing bays and park­ing spots across Malta and Gozo. Once you have found a car nearby, the app al­lows you to un­lock the car doors and get go­ing!

Users are charged a flat rate of €0.28 per minute of use along with a €7 monthly mem­ber­ship fee, which means no hid­den costs, no wor­ry­ing about the Val­letta CVA sys­tem and no hav­ing to re­fuel be­fore re­turn­ing the car. Once at their des­ti­na­tion, the user then locks the car us­ing the app and the trans­ac­tion is com­plete.

Re­served park­ing bays can be found all around Malta and Gozo, in­clud­ing sev­eral in the Sliema, Val­letta, San Gwann and Msida ar­eas. GoTo drivers can make use of the re­served GoTo park­ing spa­ces, which means there is no need to worry about find­ing a park­ing spot – it’s there wait­ing for you! There are al­ready an in­cred­i­ble 450 park­ing spots re­served ex­clu­sively for GoTo users.

The aim of this ini­tia­tive is to show mo­torists that there are other ways of get­ting around con­ve­niently and on time, with­out hav­ing to own a car. Car shar­ing dis­trib­utes the costs and the ben­e­fits of car use be­tween a higher num­ber of peo­ple, mak­ing it cheaper to rent a car for a short spell than it is to be fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble for the up­keep of a car. So why not try it to­day? For more in­for­ma­tion and to ap­ply, please visit www.goto.com.mt

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