Car share schemes offer flexibility for drivers, even if you own your own car.

A car share scheme works by having cars that members can book for as little as an hour at a time. Car share schemes have revolutionised the way tens of thousands are getting around our urban areas. They're already well-established in Sydney and Melbourne, growing in cities like Adelaide and Brisbane, and being discussed or planned in other major Australian citiesi, ii, iii.


Living in a one-car household that may occasionally need two cars? Car share schemes can give you that flexibility - including cars with baby seats or that are suitable for pets. All without the expense or hassle of owning a second car.

Car share vehicles are also great if you need a bigger vehicle. Have a family or a large group of friends coming to visit? Hire a people mover or a station wagon. Moving house or picking up something bulky? Book a ute or a van.

From Sydney and going to Melbourne for a week? Need a car for a few hours? Just book a car share vehicle - and if you book with the same company it's easy because you've already done the paperwork. Some Australian car share companies even have international partners so their members can have access to vehicles overseasiv.

Councils like the City of Sydney are strong advocates for car sharing.

Businesses have also cottoned onto the benefits of car share schemes. Businesses can register for a corporate membership and when any of their employees need to make a trip - such as to client meetings - they can book a car and head off.

How it works

By signing up to a car share provider, members have access to a fleet of vehicles parked around the city in parking spaces reserved for them. They're often in car share marked street parking provided by local councils, but they may also be in other locations like parking lots or hotels. Members can hire from a range of vehicles as and when they need them, dropping them off to the same spot once they've finished with it.

Typical schemes charge an annual membership fee and then an hourly rate that ranges from $6 to $13 per hour; the rental fee will cover a certain number of kilometres, with a small fee incurred for additional kilometres travelled thereafterv. The fee typically includes fuel, insurance, registration, maintenance and all other cost associated with car ownership.

Booked online or over the phone, a swipe card lets the member into the car, where they can collect the set of keys (stored in the car), and they'll be on their way. When time's up, the car must be returned to the same parking spot.

Car share schemes in Sydney have thousands of members.

Car share schemes also have some rules that members need to be aware of and abide by. You'll need to return the car before the end of your booking - if you're late you'll inconvenience other members and you could incur additional charges. And if the fuel gauge drops below a certain level, you'll need to fill up with the supplied fuel card. And if you leave a mess in the car for other members, a fine may applyvi.

And car sharing is not just an effective way of getting around; it's good for the environment too. A City of Sydney report found that car sharing has the potential to ease congestion on our roads, and reduce emissions from carsvii.

i Zaw, Y., The West Australian, 2012, Share scheme to cut use as Freo grows,

ii Orr, A.,, 2012, Then share one...,

iii GoGet, Find Cars,

iv GoGet, Global Roaming Partners,

v City of Sydney, Car Sharing,

vi Flexicar, 2012, ReMember Manual,

vii City of Sydney, 2012, Benefit-Cost Analysis of Car Share within the City of Sydney,