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Paid parking, global warming: It's time to pool in Canberra

Jump In: In front, Magda Asfaw and Torsten Herbst, in the back, Lachlan Abbott and Tim Womac, share a ride to Barton.

Jump In: In front, Magda Asfaw and Torsten Herbst, in the back, Lachlan Abbott and Tim Womac, share a ride to Barton. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Car sharing has never come naturally to Canberra's public servants but one young local entrepreneur and the city's global warming activists want to change all that.

Torsten Herbst says his car-pooling website could be just the thing to change the habits of a lifetime and help the bureaucrats of the Parliamentary Triangle beat the looming paid-parking regime.

Canberra's climate change action groups are also trying to jump-start a scheme to get more of the capital's drivers into fewer cars.

As departmental staffers struggle to think of ways around the $11-a-day fee to park in areas that have been free for decades, Mr Herbst says his website coseats.com may be the solution.

"It started in 2011, initially as a taxi-sharing site for people commuting to and from the airport," he said.

"It morphed more or less into a ride-sharing site because most of the people who are keen on ride sharing are backpackers or travellers who have incentives to share to avoid big fuel costs.

"But we've always promoted it as a car-pooling site as well."

Mr Herbst, who is not quite ready to give up his day job as a software engineer, says that ride sharing has always been more popular among the time-rich backpacking crowd than with harried bureaucrats.

"Car pooling is for commuters and ride sharing is more for interstate travellers," he said.

"Car pooling has been a tougher crowd to crack.

''I think it's an older crowd with people maybe more protective of their cars.

"Timing can be an issue, too, with people going to and from work, it's harder for people to leave at the same time."

But the new hardline pay-parking policy to be enforced on all Commonwealth-owned land in and around the Triangle from July 1, could well mean that coseats' time has come.

"We've followed this whole discussion about the Parliamentary Triangle and the public service complaining about having to pay $11 a day," Mr Herbst said.

"That's quite a bit, if you're on an average salary and you have to pay more than $2000 a year.

"There's been no shortage of initiatives from the government sector, even the private sector, to promote car pooling but it's never really caught on. But if you factor in parking and not just petrol costs, then it could be a more interesting proposition."

Mr Herbst says that a key feature of his site is sure to appeal to the typical Canberra budget-conscious bureaucrat: if you don't hook up a ride to work, you don't pay.

Jodie Pipkorn, executive officer of local climate-change pressure group SEE-Change, said it had approached the territory government with a proposition on car sharing.

"The proposal we have put forward consists of running a competitive process for companies to compete in, and bid, to be the first car-share company in the ACT," she said.

"To get this under way, the government only needs to commit to allocating at least 10 parking spaces and to provide some initial support by using the car-share cars for part of their government car fleet."

21 comments

  • Carpools and vanpooling options are a good idea, but don't provide the flexibility that you're generally after once at work - if you didn't need the flexibility, you'd take the bus or ride your bike. Although this could provide a valid option for anyone living in an area poorly served by Action buses and too far from work to ride a bike.

    It would be really good to see car sharing get off the ground in Canberra - a few share cars in the parliamentary triangle would make it much easier to do errands during the day. For those of us already walking, cycling or bussing to work, we could practically get rid of our own cars, saving thousands of dollars a year, and with enough share cars in the area, still be just as mobile as before. Having seen plenty of Sydney-based share cars as far away as the snow, there's no reason a scheme like that couldn't work in Canberra.

    Commenter
    S Milburn
    Location
    Kingston
    Date and time
    April 28, 2014, 6:40AM
    • The problem with carpooling is that you don't have the flexibility to pop out at lunchtime or call in at the shops on the way home. So you end up making an extra trip to do those things anyway, which almost defeats the point.

      Commenter
      Craig007
      Date and time
      April 28, 2014, 7:26AM
      • Careful Craig, with that sort of logical thinking you'll be branded a climate change denier

        Commenter
        Richo
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        April 28, 2014, 9:44AM
    • That's all very well, but what about people who are working at Russell at all hours of the day and night and where there are no facilities or services and have to get into Civic to do simple business. What about the military husbands and wives from interstate who have no family support here in Canberra and have to drop off and pick up children from day care or school or their partners from work as I do every morning and afternoon.

      Commenter
      Russell
      Location
      Russell Hill
      Date and time
      April 28, 2014, 8:09AM
      • Why not catch the bus into Civic? The Action website shows, for example, 9 services between Russell and Civic between midday and 1 pm – that’s a service every 6-7 minutes on average. If you use a MyWay card topped up online it will cost just a little over $2.00 there and back if you start your return trip within 90 minutes of starting the first leg. And, you don't have to look or pay for a car park.

        Commenter
        Mark
        Date and time
        April 28, 2014, 9:06AM
    • If I wanted to be inconvenienced when travelling by having to wait for other people, to put up with their body odour, and to go to places I had no intention of going, I would use public transport...oh, wait....

      Commenter
      Xolin
      Date and time
      April 28, 2014, 8:44AM
      • "the typical Canberra budget-conscious bureaucrat" so they are budget-conscious when its their own money? How ironic

        Commenter
        Richo
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        April 28, 2014, 9:39AM
        • Seems to me that those people for whom carpooling is a viable option for commuter transport are probably already doing it. Along with increasing use of motorbikes and buses, this is will only make a minor contribution to the soluton of transport woes in the ACT,

          Commenter
          Woz
          Location
          Civic
          Date and time
          April 28, 2014, 9:43AM
          • Mark. 90 minutes to do what is effectively an eight kilometer round trip from Russell to Civic when we only get a one hour lunch break. Yeh, that really works.

            Commenter
            Russell
            Location
            Russell Hill
            Date and time
            April 28, 2014, 10:20AM
            • The bus trip each way would only take around 8 minutes, so you could easily do the round trip in 46 minutes, with half an hour in Civic doing errands. It would almost take that long just to find a carpark at Russell at that time of day!

              Commenter
              Bill
              Date and time
              April 28, 2014, 10:51AM

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