Two car-sharing companies that began a two-year government-supported trial in Canberra last year want extra support after a slow start in the territory.
Sydney car-sharing companies GoGet and Popcar expanded their operations to the ACT last year with the backing of the ACT government.
The companies received 11 parks each for the trial in the city, at Dickson, at the Russell offices and at the rear of the Treasury Building in the Parliamentary Triangle through the ACT government and the National Capital Authority.
But Popcar marketing manager Louise Thomas said they wanted the government to provide them wth dedicated spaces in residential areas like Kingston and Braddon rather than the Parliamentary Triangle.
While "company policy" prevented her from revealing their membership numbers, figures provided to the ACT Legislative Assembly showed in February, they had 143 ACT members and were recording 1.5 bookings a day.
"What we've noticed is that the take-up has been slow and usage is relatively low, which is obviously something we're disappointed with but our efforts have been hampered in terms of where we are able to locate the cars, our cars in Canberra are currently located in government-allocated car parks, they tend to be within the Parliamentary Triangle," Ms Thomas said.
"This is not ideal for a number of reasons. The general public can't see them, they're quite intimidating environments, it looks like you can't access them very easily and more importantly they are not where people need them."
Ms Thomas said for car sharing to work, the cars needed to be where people lived.
"It's got to be a quick and easy 50-metre walk to 100-metre walk from your front door to a parked car because the whole concept of car sharing is that it's designed to replace car ownership so people need to have access at the start of their journey, not necessarily midway or when they're at work," Ms Thomas said.
GoGet appears to be faring better. GoGet's head of locations and partnerships Christopher Vanneste said they now had 700 members in the ACT, up from 240 in April last year. The Canberra membership base is nearly 200 members higher than that of Adelaide, ACT government figures showed.
Mr Vanneste said the uptake of membership had not slowed and about 70 new members signed up each month.
"The last two months have been our best months in Canberra. We currently average about 15 bookings per car per month. We are doing about 200 trips per month," he said.
Mr Vanneste said GoGet wanted to bring the ACT government on as a business client.
"We are looking to assist the ACT government by helping them use carshare to save money on their mobility costs, and increase visibility of their transport needs. We would like to work with the government to further promote this service," he said.
A spokesman for transport minister Meegan Fitzharris said the government was open to any proposal and said there was no direct cost to the territory through car sharing, bar a "small amount" of forgone parking revenue.
Car sharing allows people to rent out a car by the hour or day, After signing up to the car sharing services, members book the car for the times they want to use it and pick it up from one of the designated car parks, using a swipe card for access.
After they're done, users park the car back in the original bay, ensuring it is clean, back on time and has at least a quarter of a tank in fuel.
The car sharing company pays for the fuel, maintenance, registration and insurance of the car.
But while the thought of never paying rego again is an appealing one, individual car ownership is well entrenched in Canberra.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 615 passenger vehicles per 1000 ACT residents last year.
Kingston mum Zoe Pleasants said hers was a "two-car family" before their second car broke down two months ago. Instead of replacing it, she signed up to GoGet.
"We use it when we've got two places to be," she said. "We use it mostly on Saturday morning, say we've got to take someone to swimming or soccer."
Ms Pleasants said the expense of their second car outweighed its usage.
She believed it was cheaper for them to carshare when they needed the second vehicle, rather than paying for rego, insurance and running costs year-round.
The only downside, she said, was having to carry her youngest child's car seat to the carshares parked nearby each time they use it.
"If you're at that stage, it's probably less appealing but we only need it for a small amount of time, the rest of the time we do things like ride our bike, catch public transport but when we definitely need a car, we've got that option now," Ms Pleasants said.
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