By Sophie Trigger
The City of Sydney’s car share initiative could be increasing traffic and reducing parking in city suburbs, according to City of Sydney councilor Christine Forster.
Share cars are an arrangement by which city dwellers can hire a car for a short period of time before returning it to one of many designated parking spots across the city.
Car sharing in the inner city began as a council scheme in 2003 and has now exceeded its initial target of 10% of residents (20,000 people) as members of the scheme
“If the 10% we’re trying to put into share-cars are people that don’t actually own cars, then surely we’re putting more cars back onto the streets and creating more traffic,’ said Cr Forster – who is also a Surry Hills resident.
Councilor Forster is vocal in her objection to share-cars being issued with residents’ permits, as she expressed in an op-ed in The Daily Telegraph recently.
Many residents of city suburbs such as Surrey Hills, Potts Point and Glebe are equally skeptical about the scheme.
Oliver Smith, of Glebe, comments that share cars often make it difficult for him to find a park close to his workplace.
“Directly out the front from where I work, there are two spots for share cars which are almost always parked there,” Mr. Smith said.
“That can make it difficult to find a park for work that is not almost a ten minute walk away.”
He also believes that the scheme is by no means a green alternative when compared to not owning a car at all.
“When I had access to a share car, I was putting myself on the road when I wouldn’t have otherwise been there,” he said.
But The City of Sydney, maintains that share-cars are effective in reducing traffic and increasing parking spots within the city.
“One share car vehicle can replace up to 12 private cars, thus reducing demand for parking,” a council spokesperson said.
Although it has been in operation for over a decade, council figures show that the number of car share users has more than tripled over the past three years.
There are currently around 600 car-share spots in the City of Sydney Government area – representing 2% of all car parks around the city – that is expected to rise to 694 spots by the end of the current financial year.
Elle Geraghty, from the inner west, has been using the city’s leading car-share company, Go Get, for several years now, and finds the service incredibly useful.
“If it’s getting rid of a second car, I think that’s awesome,” she said.
“I love it – I love it that it’s got that sharing mentality as well.”
But Cr Forster maintains that parking in the city remains one of the council’s most pressing issues, as it was in the lead up to the 2012 election.
“The reality is there are still many, many residents that need to have cars,” she said.
“And if someone needs a car, then they obviously need somewhere to park it.”
“The council’s attitude seems to be that if you don’t provide people with parking, then people won’t own cars, but it’s not supported by reality and by people’s circumstances.”