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Urban Systems Victoria Office Joins Car Share Program

Supporting vibrant communities that are less car dependent.

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“If you live in a city, you don’t need to own a car.”
– Henry Ford’s great-grandson, Bill Ford Jr. (Chair, Ford Motor Co.)

Let’s face it: owning a car isn’t always smooth sailing. Parking it, gassing it up, cleaning it, repairing it, navigating it through increased congestion and traffic, and oh yeah-being aware of that looming carbon footprint-it just doesn’t always add up to own a car. Staff in the Victoria office typically commute to work by bike or transit, but on days when they had offsite client meetings, this was a challenge. So they couldn’t have been happier several weeks ago when they discovered an innovative alternative: The Victoria Car Share Co-op.

The Victoria Car Share Co-op serves 500 members, who each enjoy driving for $120-$150 per month, a small fraction of the $600 than the typical Canadian shells out monthly to own and operate a vehicle. The Co-op is entirely self-sustaining through vehicle usage revenues.

“When we opened the Victoria Urban Systems office three years ago,“ explains Kate Berniaz, we deliberately chose a downtown location that would be easily accessible for us and our clients by bike or transit. The challenge is going offsite to meet clients. On days where we were headed to more remote client offices, we’d have this complicated and costly process. We’d have to drive downtown, pay for parking, use our car for an hour or two, come back and pay for parking again. It just didn’t always make sense. I had a friend on board of the Victoria Car Share Co-op and started looking into using their service for our office.”

In addition to providing the office with more transportation options, Kate liked the idea that Urban Systems would be supporting a creative organization that encourages a shift toward going car-free or “car-light”.

“I love the idea of innovative alternate transportation and the idea of supporting this initiative, which is ultimately contributing to a healthy, vibrant community. Vibrant communities encourage walking, cycling and taking transit. When you can provide options like car sharing co-op, that helps people shift their mode of transportation. Now we can bike to work and then when we need to meet our clients, walk to a parkade three blocks away, pick up a car and drive out to Colwood or Sidney or even take it for a day and it is comparable to renting a car. It’s so easy I’m even thinking of selling my own personal car.”

“Vibrant communities encourage walking, cycling and taking transit. When you can provide options like car sharing co-op, that helps people shift their mode of transportation.”

Kate’s colleague Tim agrees. “We all live close to the office in Victoria and a lot of us cycle in to work. We don’t usually have personal cars in close access to the office. The car share is great because it allows us to choose the opportunity to visit more remote clients if we need to without bringing a personal car down and leaving it in costly parking out front just to access that meeting. It’s a good opportunity for us to choose alternate modes of transportation but still be able to access our clients.”

Today there is a rapidly growing worldwide car sharing movement that has been surging in popularity over the past few years. Between July 2011 and July 2012, car sharing membership grew 44.0 percent in the United States and 28.7 percent in Canada (Carsharing Outlook, Kootenay Carshare 2012). And ultimately, it’s not just about sharing cars, but about sharing, well, almost everything. The new sharing economy is alive and well and includes ever more popular services such as Air BnB where travellers can rent a room or a whole home from regular folks, to Liquid, a bike sharing network in San Francisco.

“Ultimately these kinds of services we will see more and more,” says Tim. “There’s a real shift toward more sharing and less privatization. The economics and logic are so favourable. We’re happy to support the car co-op and help it flourish so that our community can see more success stories such as this.”

Did you know? Urban Systems’ Kelowna office also participates in a car sharing program. Read more about it here: http://www.urbanmatters.ca/2014/07/car-share-lessons-learned/

Learn more about the Victoria Car Co-operative here: http://victoriacarshare.ca/drupal-6.2/

The Victoria Car Share Co-op is recently announced that they are working towards a spring 2015 merger with Modo, Vancouver’s only local carsharing co-operative.

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