Sunday 24 August 2008

Car-pool programme initiated in Cork city

Residents of Cork city can sign up to share a pool of cars under a new transport initiative.

Cork City Council has entered a partnership with Mendes GoCar, a company that will provide vehicles for car-sharing for periods of as little as one hour.

It is the first time the system has been used in Ireland, but it has been in operation in Switzerland and Germany for 20 years, and for more than ten years in other parts of Europe, Britain and the US.

Private users of the system sign up online and pay a once-off fee of €50, while business customers register for €100 and pay €25 for any additional drivers. All users must have a full licence with at least two years’ driving experience, and have to pay a refundable deposit of €200.

Once authorised, they get a smartcard which unlocks the cars at a particular time, and a customer identification number, which is entered into a handset to start the car. There are eight vehicles in the fleet - six Ford Fiestas, one Ford Focus and one Ford Transit.

Fiestas cost €5 per hour to hire and 35 cent per kilometre driven, while the Focus and Transit cost €6 per hour and 40 cent for the first 100 kilometres driven. The costs include Vat, fuel, insurance and tax. The once-off fee is for administration.

Fifteen council staff and five private users have been signed up for trials since last Wednesday, before the official launch on September 19.

Mendes GoCar is an Irish consultancy that specialises in sustainable transport. It has a partnership with Cambio, a car-sharing company which operates in nine German and 13 Belgian cities. Irish customers of GoCar also have access to Cambio’s large fleet of cars overseas.

Graham Lightfoot, managing director of Mendes GoCar, said the scheme might be introduced in Dublin next year if it proved to be a success in Cork.

Sunday Business Post

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