(Jan. 2004) First-Ever Study of Car-Sharing Shows Dramatic Environmental & Traffic Benefits

UC Berkeley Study of City CarShare Shows Reductions in Greenhouse Gases, 30% of Members Have Sold Cars

San Francisco (January 12, 2004) – Car-sharing dramatically reduces the use of cars and the emission of greenhouse gases according to the first-ever major study of car-sharing, conducted by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley. The researchers tracked City CarShare, a San Francisco Bay area car-sharing organization, whose members have access to a neighborhood-based network of late-model cars they can reserve for short or long periods of time. 

The study followed hundreds of members of City CarShare over an 18-month period. Results include:

  • Since joining, 30% of City CarShare households in San Francisco have sold one or more of their privately owned cars.
  • 67% have chosen not to purchase an additional car.
  • Overall automobile travel among City CarShare members has dropped 47%.
  • Use of public transit, walking and bicycling by CarShare members has increased.
  • Each day City CarShare is saving 13,000 miles of vehicle travel, 720 gallons of gasoline, and 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Since the study data were collected, City CarShare (www.citycarshare.org) has approximately doubled its membership to 3000 members. “The UC Berkeley study–the first independent, academic study of car-sharing–clearly shows that car-sharing is a cheaper, more convenient alternative to car ownership and that it carries significant environmental and traffic benefits,” said Larry Magid, executive director of City CarShare. “The dramatic decreases in car ownership and usage shows that City CarShare members are undergoing a fundamental change in how they use cars, and how their travel impacts the environment.” 

“City CarShare’s car-sharing program has reduced per capita gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions among its members,” said Robert Cervero, a professor of city and regional planning with UC Berkeley’s Institute of Urban and Regional Development, who authored the study. “Car-sharing has also enhanced the mobility of individual members, allowing them to conveniently reach more destinations in and around the San Francisco Bay area and to do so more quickly.” 

The study represents the latest in Cervero’s three-year evaluation of City CarShare’s effects on travel, car ownership, the environment, parking and the quality of life. 
Facts and Figures 85% of City CarShare members use the service at least once per month; 30% use it once per week or more. Most trips are made outside of peak rush-hour periods. The biggest use of City Carshare is shopping (29.5% of trips) followed by personal business (19.2%), recreation (12.5%), travel to work (10.7%), social (8.3%), medical (5.6%), eating out (4.7%) and other (9.5%). 

The study authors compared the cost of individual trips based on time and distance and wrote that 84% of trips taken during the period of research were cheaper using City CarShare than they would have been using taxis or traditional car rental.

About City CarShare
Launched in 2001, City CarShare is the largest nonprofit car-sharing organization in the U.S., serving over 4,000 active members with over 90 vehicles in more than 45 locations throughout the Bay Area for $4/hour and 44¢/mile. Prices include gas, insurance, parking, cleaning, and maintenance. A cheaper, greener way to drive, City CarShare offers a choice of compacts, pickup trucks, hybrids, and stylish green VW Beetles to its individual and business members. For more information or to become a member, visit www.citycarshare.org or call (415) 995-8588.