Increase in car sharing requires public sector support

HSL, Helsinki region municipalities, the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Ministry of Transport and Communications and VR conducted a study on how car sharing could be promoted in the Helsinki region. The final report states that services supporting car sharing, for example parking arrangements, must be closely tied to the regional transport system planning.

Car sharing has increased in Finland in the 2000s both in quantity and quality but, in the committee's opinion, a positive attitude of decision-makers and authorities toward car sharing is important so that the number of users would increase.

Elsewhere car sharing has often started as a municipal, regional or State project and public sector support for car sharing is significantly higher in many other places. In addition to financial support, other means of supporting car sharing include transport planning, sharing information and campaigns. In the committee’s opinion, the same measures could be tried also in the Helsinki region.

An important factor in promoting car sharing is providing easy and affordable parking. Parking policy in the Helsinki region varies greatly from one municipality to another but all of the municipalities in the region are striving to control the number of parking spaces. As one shared car replaces about 10 privately owned ones, car sharing significantly decreases the cost of providing parking facilities and consequently the cost of living.

Park & Ride sites are important parking facilities for shared cars. However, there are only a few spaces designated for shared cars, as yet. A reasonable number of car spaces could be two designated spaces per station. The committee also suggested that a simple car sharing symbol or traffic sign would be created.

Motoring is undergoing a radical change at least in western Europe and the US. What once was a status symbol, is now a common everyday object. An increasing number of city dwellers do not own a car. Sometimes, however, a car is useful: for example, if you have a lot to carry or you need to go several places, taking public transport would be tricky. Car sharing is an environmentally friendly solution for this kind of occasional car needs.