Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Car Sharing in Ithaca: Revving Up

Is Ithaca ready to become the latest U.S. city to adopt a car sharing program? A coalition of public and private groups here think so, and are working to make it happen soon, perhaps as soon as this winter.

Ithaca Car Share comprises public and private groups in Ithaca and Tompkins County that see the benefits of reducing the number of cars on our roads: benefits to individuals, freed from expensive and often wasteful car ownership (imagine owning a house, for example, that you only used for an hour a day?), and benefits to the community, which is on the verge, or maybe past it, of automotive overload on our roads.

Already on board are the city, the county, Cornell, Ithaca College, TCAT, EcoVillage, Ithaca Hours, and other civic groups and businesses.

These various groups have various interests in promoting a car sharing program. But through many months of meetings they have seen that their interests overlap rather than compete.

Studies show that a carshare vehicle eliminates from 6 to 23 cars from the road, depending on the organization and locality. Think about that the next time you are trying to drive up east hill via Green and State Streets at 8 a.m. on a weekday. The city and county are sure thinking about it, and how much it could ease their road maintenance budgets.

Studies also show that CO2 emissions are reduced by about 50% for every participant. Thus EcoVillage's interest. Presumably, EcoVillage residents, as individuals, are also interested in the financial savings of reducing car dependency, eliminating the need for a second family car, etc.

Ithaca Hours is interested in the prospects of cutting car expenses for individuals, thus freeing up money to spend at local businesses, for local resources, to fill healthier needs. Hours has put forth an offer for an interest-free loan in local currency to the project.

TCAT, like the city and county, has an interest in less congested roads. It is also interested in promoting all ideas and efforts for better transportation in the areas it serves.

Cornell and Ithaca College - again, like the city and county - would like to reduce the amount of money and space they allocate to accomodating a mass of vehicles that might never lessen without positive action.

The colleges see car sharing as a valuable employee benefit and recruitment tool. Large local businesses do, too.

What can car sharing do for you? It is pleasant to contemplate the savings, and the creative community possibilities. You can find out more at Ithaca Car Share's website:

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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