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Car sharing schemes

John Nuttall learns to share and share alike with this alternative to car ownership

Published on June 22nd 2010.

Car sharing schemes

Last month I decided that, rather than spend a large sum of money putting my ageing BMW through an MOT, I’d just have it humanely destroyed and throw myself on the vagaries of public transport.

I’m not a great fan of public transport, mainly because, as the name implies, it’s full of the public.

I’m not a great fan of public transport, mainly because, as the name implies, it’s full of the public. The last time I tempted fate by taking the last train home from Manchester on a Saturday night, I resorted to feigning unconsciousness to escape the mobile lunatic asylum that is the late night Leeds flyer.

The wonders of broadband internet have freed many of us from the horrors of the M62 during the inappropriately named ‘rush hour’.

But despite being spared the nightmare of commuting, there are still occasions when you just need a car. I was musing on this very point when I noticed a parked car with a sign on it indicating that it belonged to ‘Hour Car’, a local car sharing club. Intrigued, I had a look at their website.

It appeared that the car club covered my town and the next two down the valley and boasted a 'fleet' of five vehicles. Booking a vehicle is done via the internet and the costs seemed very reasonable. There’s a one-off joining fee of £25, then a monthly subscription of £11 and after that you just pay by the hour plus a mileage charge to cover the fuel. The hourly charge is £2.50, which drops to £1.50 after the first three hours and is free between the hours of 11pm and 8am.

This means that you can pick up a car at 9pm, set off on a night out, return it at 1am for a mere £5 (excluding the fuel cost of 12 pence per mile) and at no point will a drunken chav vomit over you on the journey home.

What you don’t pay for are road tax, insurance, maintenance, depreciation and breakdown cover, all of which are included in your membership fees. Looking back over the last financial year I calculate that these have cost me around £3,000. It’s early days but so far, a month in, I’ve only spent around £30 with Hour Car, a substantial saving.

So, what car do you get to drive? There’s a Corsa, a Fabia, an Astra Estate, a Berlingo and the one that I used, a Citroen C4. They’re all diesel and between one and four-years-old. Availability seems good with a ratio of one car to every ten members.

It's an interesting alternative to owning your own car with advantages on a personal and global level – you only pay for the use of a vehicle as and when you need it, and you're simultaneously helping to reduce the environmental damage of car ownership.

Hour Car covers the Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd areas. www.hourcar.org.uk. To find out whether there's a car share club in your area, go to www.carplan.org.uk.

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NortherngeezerJune 23rd 2010.

Great idea, i can see it catching on for the 'occasional' user but commuters like myself have to face the daily grind of traffic, however much we would like not to.

Leigh ScottJune 23rd 2010.

How would you get there if you don't have a car?

AnonymousJune 24th 2010.

Probably worth mentioning that there are loads of cars available on the same basis in central Manchester provided by City Car Club....

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