Auckland Transport is looking for a car share operator to launch a large scale scheme in Auckland, based on Plug-in Electric Vehicles.
Auckland Transport has released a Request for Proposal (RFP) from car share operators to create a scheme here. It would initially have 250 - 300 vehicles which AT will match with a similar number of car parks dedicated to care share vehicles. It's expected that, in time, the fleet would increase to at least 500 cars.
A new large-scale scheme in Auckland would be a private venture with all significant costs borne by the operator, not by Auckland ratepayers. Auckland Transport's main contribution would be to designate dedicated car parks around the city.
Car share schemes are based on members who pay a membership fee which entitles them to use a scheme-owned car on demand, for which they pay a per-trip charge based upon the time used.
There are already about five million people, world-wide, who are members of a car share scheme and the numbers of both users and cities with a scheme, are growing rapidly, changing transport habits in the process.
Auckland Transport chairman Dr Lester Levy says evidence shows members reduce the number of cars they own, with some giving up ownership altogether. As a result, one shared-car can replace between eight and 20 privately-owned cars, depending on the scheme and the city.
Dr Levy says if a large scale scheme in Auckland achieved at the lower end of the scale, it could replace 2000 private cars and at the higher end, as many as 10,000.
He says besides reducing their car ownership, scheme members tend to travel fewer kilometres each year in a car and significantly re-orientate their transport habits onto a mix of car-share, public transport and walking and cycling.
Mayor Len Brown says, "A scheme like this can make an important contribution to both our transport network, our commitment to lowering carbon emissions, and our sustainability initiatives. Once again, it is about offering Aucklanders alternatives - a new transport option, an alternative energy source, and if people want, an alternative to private car ownership to complement public and active transport."
In addition, car-sharing schemes had the potential to allow operators of large fleets to significantly reduce the number of vehicles they own.
Dr Levy says, "We estimate that Auckland Transport could reduce its fleet by between 25 and 50%, which would represent a significant saving to ratepayers. All of these changes would make a contribution towards Auckland reducing road congestion and encouraging people out of private cars into alternative forms of travel."
When a scheme is based on electric vehicles, as favoured for Auckland, there would be an accompanying reduction in environmental pollution, an encouragement for more people to move to electric vehicles and the substitution of a clean, "home-grown" fuel for imported fossil fuels.
These benefits will tick a number of the boxes in Auckland's Low Carbon Action Plan and assists our existing initiatives to also meet low carbon objectives, Dr Levy says.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) Chief Executive, Mike Underhill, applauds Auckland Transport for its leadership in this proposal which will help get Auckland moving, support the Low Carbon Auckland Action Plan and play an important part in supporting the uptake of electric vehicles nationwide.
"Auckland Transport's proposal will offer Auckland businesses and residents an exciting alternative to using their own car in the city."
Mr Underhill says electric vehicle car share programmes have been successfully running overseas for years. "It's time for New Zealand to grab the opportunity to reduce our carbon emissions and make the most of our abundant renewable electricity."
"Wearing his hat" as chairman of both the Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards, Dr Levy says an average of 126 premature deaths each year in Auckland, of adults below 30, are attributed to transport emissions in the air.
"Anything that brings that figure down is worth doing - and this is but one of the health benefits that will come from cleaning up Auckland's air," he says.
Dr Levy notes Auckland already has a commercial car-share operator, City Hop. There is also a community based scheme, NZ Car Sharing on Waiheke Island. Auckland Transport has worked with both for a number of years, they are relatively small-scale operators and the RFP released today is for a large-scale scheme.
Dr Levy say both existing schemes are welcome to respond to the RFP but even if they don't, Auckland Transport will continue to work with them.