Why Hamilton is falling behind in the race to shared cars

Through all these bouts of campaigns and complaints concerning Hamilton’s mission for rapid, multi-modal transportation we’ve heard about bikes, buses, trains and trams but no one is talking about the cars.

I don’t mean the individually owned cars that putter down King Street bumper to bumper in the morning and evening each day. I’m talking about shared cars—more specifically Community CarShare, Ontario’s first car-share organization founded in 1998.

Here are 5 facts about Community CarShare:

1. 100% of their cars have snow tires.

2. Membership includes insurance and you DON’T need to pay for gas.

It is not required that you fill up the tank before returning it, and gas cards are available in each car incase you find yourself running low during your trip.

3. Membership is as low as $5 a month.

Additionally, you do need to pay per kilometre PLUS the lowest priced rate, give you more bang for your buck. See here.

“We actually don’t recommend that you use CarShare for [daily commuting],” said Member services coordinator, Matthew Piggott . “Our bread and butter is sometimes using a car for two to three hours.”

4. As a member, you automatically become a part-owner.

Members are invited to take part. In fact, each member gets a vote at the annual general meeting to elect the Board of Directors.

“Members like to have that democracy as part of their CarShare, but they also like to know that the organization has no greater purpose than to provide them with a good CarSharing service… but also taking member safety quite seriously.”

5. The City of Hamilton itself it a corporate member.

“…and instead of adding more vehicles to their fleet, they actually use Community CarShare for a lot of their trips,” said Piggott. “And where that’s important as a citizen and also a taxpayer is that means your city’s transportation budget is going into building a service that anyone in the community can use.”


Hamilton trailing behind in the race to a sharable city

In comparison to Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton is doing very poorly in building a CarShare community. Here is the comparison of current parking spots in Hamilton vs. K-W:



And here is a comparison of future spots that are coming soon in Hamilton vs. K-W:



“I think it’s more just a question of time. We’ve been in the Kitchener-Waterloo area for 16 years, and we’ve only been in Hamilton for five.”

Community CarShare’s home office is also in Kitchener-Waterloo, where they were founded. However, with Hamilton’s level of civic engagement and our incomparable social media community, you might think five years would have been enough time for the program to come into the forefront of our minds.

“I think the major difference might be that Hamilton just has much higher density in the downtown core, and there’s more access to free parking in K-W than there is in Hamilton,” said Piggott. “So in K-W we can start with free parking and build from there, in Hamilton it’s more likely that we can only get the parking spot the moment there is need for a [shared] car.”

Most recently, Community CarShare has added a plug-in hybrid to the Hamilton fleet, located at Green Venture on Veevers Road.

Community CarShare programs are for everyone

Buses and trains aren’t for everyone, and they certainly can’t get you anywhere. Maybe you want to take a day trip up to Niagara to do a wine tour with your significant other, or maybe you just want to surprise your mom who lives out of town for dinner. Or, possibly, you just have a quick errand you need to run in Burlington. You don’t drive often–not nearly enough to buy, maintain, and insure your own car–but sometimes you need to get around.

Enter car-share programs.

“If you own your own car, that’s great and you might informally share it with a few people,” said Piggott. “But if you’re thinking about yourself and your neighbours, when you join a CarShare organization you’re actually building a community resource that anybody can use.”

Why and how would you become a parking provider

It’s no secret that downtown Hamilton is littered with parking lots, many of which do not fill up on a daily basis. If you are going to own a parking lot, you may as well contribute a spot or two in order to give back to your community.

“At businesses or places or worship, it says something about your values—that you care for the community, that you’re caring for the environment, and that those things are important to you,” said Piggott.

Pick a spot, any spot

For both you and Community CarShare, it would be beneficial if you chose one close to the road. That spot is now going to be reserved 24/7 for your stationed vehicle.

“It’s a good marketing piece, because when we have an active car at your location, you get naming right for that location, and then everybody that is booking the car knows that they are booking the ‘Tim Horton’s Car’ for example.”

Community CarShare has done research that shows that members of the car-share programs tend to shop more at locations that have a car on their lot.

Find out how you or your business location can become a parking provider

“Ask around because I bet there is someone you know who is a member, and they can give you a referral credit.”

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