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Car sharing begins in Canberra

Car sharing is finally set to begin in Canberra, with 22 carparks set aside in the city, Dickson and the parliamentary triangle for members of car-sharing firms Go Get and Popcar to book and use.

ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris will announce the start of car sharing on Monday, ticking off another of the agreements Labor made with the Greens when it struck a power-sharing deal after the 2012 election.

Ms Fitzharris said the ACT government was supplying 18 carparks and the National Capital Authority was supplying four, as their contribution to the car-sharing two-year trial.

Go Get and Popcar have been allocated 11 parks each, in the two London Circuit carparks in the city, at Dickson, at the Russell offices and at the rear of the Treasury Building in the Parliamentary Triangle.

People who want to use the cars become members of a car-sharing firm, then pay an hourly rate to use a car. Members book cars for the times they want to use them, using a swipe card for access. They are responsible for ensuring the car is clean, back on time, and has at least a quarter tank of fuel. The car-sharing companies pay fuel, keep the cars clean, and handle insurance.

Popcar's website offers cars in Sydney for a monthly fee of $19.90 and an hourly rate of $5.50 plus 40 cents a kilometre for the cheapest car in its fleet. Or you can pay no monthly fee, but pay a higher rate per hour - $9.90 plus 40 cents a kilometre.

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Go Get offers cars at $49 a year to join, and $10.35 an hour plus 40 cents a kilometre; or higher membership fee - $30 a month - in return for lower costs each hour - $6.35 an hour plus 40 cents a kilometre.

Popcar could not be reached on Sunday, but Go Get said it was waiving the $30 monthly fee for Canberrans for the first six months.

Go Get says it has 240 members in Canberra already, mostly people who have joined to use cars in other cities, but also people using two vans at Ikea.

Locations planner for Go Get Joshua Brydges said the company would offer five cars initially in Canberra - a Toyota Rav 4 and four Toyota Corollas. It would expand to 10 in the coming few months.

"There is always a bedding in period when you launch car share since it takes time to determine what demand will be like and where," he said.

Ms Fitzharris said car sharing would give Canberrans "all the benefits of a car without the hassle and expense of owning one".

"Car sharing is another way the ACT government is creating more innovative transport options for Canberra that we can integrate with buses, light rail, taxis, ride sharing and active travel," she said.

While the government had planned to put the car sharing trial to tender, Ms Fitzharris said an invitation had instead been given to two companies. They would have exclusive access for two years.

National Capital Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow said the program would include hybrid vehicles and "should encourage less car usage for individuals and fewer cars on the road".

Interviewed last year, Go Get said the aim was to have cars within 250 metres of where people lived, with convenience the key. But it appears the ACT system is aimed initially at people working in the city or visiting the city or central area, who can use a car for trips to and from the city area, rather than from home.

Go Get said last year that each car is its fleet around the country was used by an average of 22 people.

Labor and the Greens made agreements on almost 100 issues after the last election, including car sharing. Most are complete. One of the most intractable agreements, though, is a needle exchange program at the prison, still not delivered. The government has yet to ban coal seam gas from its energy contracts, as agreed, and nor has it managed to introduced a new subsidy for rooftop solar. New freedom of information laws have been drafted and redrafted but are yet to be introduced. 

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