Friday, February 22, 2008

PhillyCarShare is Booming; Margaret Mead is Beaming!

Listening to Tanya Seaman share the story of PhillyCarShare's growth, from a brainstorm of a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens to 30,000 members in six years, I can't help but think Margaret Mead is nodding approvingly in the great anthropology lecture in the sky. Tanya recently spoke to the Sustainable Business Network at the White Dog Cafe, and as I listened, I just kept smiling - "Yes!" It's as if this savvy group took all the best practices and rolled them into a super-smart non-profit business. However I think they actually created a lot of the best practices, because other cities come to them for advice, now.
The simple, brilliant concept behind car-sharing is that many people can manage most of the time without a car, but occasional driving is either more convenient or plain necessary. In dense urban spaces, insuring a car is expensive and parking is a challenge. Car sharing eliminates the hassles and lowers the annual costs enormously. (They have lots of charts and power points that drive that point home.) Of course it's way more environmentally friendly - people driving less means less emissions, but also fewer cars on the road means the suckers that still have to waste their time driving are at least doing it more efficiently and polluting less, benefiting us all.
Tanya had many interesting stories to tell, but what impressed me most was the creativity of PhillyCarShare users. They have quickly learned to cobble together multi-modal transportation - augmenting their occasional use of a car with biking, walking, training, and busing. Maybe they'll add Segways soon - PhillySegwayShare? PhillyBikeShare is actually in the planning stage.
Another impressive fact is that the two top attractions for PCS users are its convenience, relative to owning a car, and its lowered cost, also compared to owning. The environmental benefits are not the main attraction. This means that an environmentally-driven solution has gone main stream! Yay!
Oh, did I say that PCS has over 30 models of very, very cool cars? Many cities have carsharing programs. It would be great to hear stories of how they work and carsharers' feedback.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i saw a PhillyCarShare Prius on the Turnpike between Pittsburgh and Somerset on Sunday.