Anyone who owns a vehicle can attest to the growing costs associated with driving.
Beyond the spiraling cost of gas there’s also money going out the door for insurance, maintenance, parking, seasonal tire changes, and so on.
Now, the Rossland branch of Kootenay Carshare Cooperative offers an alternative.
“We’ve got nine regular members, two associates, and one business membership,” said Ann Damude, Rossland branch manager for the co-op. “So far we’ve got one vehicle, a 2005 Toyota Matrix, but our goal is to get a second vehicle, maybe a small truck or SUV. We’re doing fine with the one for now but as our membership grows it’ll become more challenging.”
Members can book the car in advance on the co-op’s website and then pick up the vehicle at its downtown Rossland location using the key stored in a lock box on the car. The website even includes an online calculator so members can estimate the cost of their booking ahead of time.
After using the vehicle they fill out the logbook and are sent an invoice at the end of the month for that period’s usage of the car. Members can pay online or through their credit union.
All costs are included in the monthly invoice, including fuel, although members are expected to fill the tank if it gets below the half way point and include the receipt with the logbook to be reimbursed at the end of the month.
“You can book as short as 30 minutes or for as long as three days,” said Damude. “In the larger Carshare co-ops with more vehicles you can book for as many as 29 days but because we only have the one car we’ve had to limit it. If someone needs it for longer than three days we’ve agreed to notify all our members beforehand to ensure nobody is inconvenienced.”
The cooperative is part of a Kootenay-wide group that allows members to book vehicles through Carshares in Nelson, Kaslo, Fernie, Kimberley, and Revelstoke.
The group also has reciprocal agreements with Carshares in Vancouver and Victoria and members can book vehicles online before they travel and pick up a car when they get to the big city.
“For a trip from Rossland to Trail, say for two hours, nine or 10 kilometres each way, it would be $9 or $10,” Damude said. “A trip to Nelson and back would be about $50. It may sound expensive initially but when you factor in gas, insurance, and maintenance it’s really cost effective.”
The Carshare advantage goes beyond the financial aspect as well. It can allow people who are driving older, less environmentally friendly vehicles, who may not have the resources to replace them with a newer, more efficient vehicle, to take their old high-maintenance gas guzzler off the road and drive a newer car without the complications of trying to secure a car loan.
“Our usage has slowly been creeping up but we need it to move four hours a day to really cover the cost,” said Damude. “We’ve got a bit of a membership push on now. We want members who will really use it, regular users. We want to get the hours up, get a second vehicle and we can be more flexible.
“I’d love to see a couple of cars in Rossland, Warfield, a couple in Trail. The estimate is, if your car moves less than four times per week or less than 10,000 kilometres per year, Carshare is a far more cost effective alternative.”