Car sharing could cut congestion in town

A Co-Wheels car share vehicle NNL-160405-091545001
A Co-Wheels car share vehicle NNL-160405-091545001

Banbury Community Group (CAG) has launched an online survey to find out if the town’s residents would be interested in a car share scheme.

Almost a quarter of Banbury homes do not own or have access to a car or similar vehicle. Scheduling trips around the availability of public transport can be difficult and bus services to the more remote villages in the area are becoming less frequent.

A car share scheme would allow car drivers the use of a car for a small monthly fee and include all costs of running a car such as insurance, road tax and MOT costs. The only additional fees that a user of the service would incur are an hourly fee and fuel.

Banbury CAG is one of over 50 groups across Oxfordshire that work with the community to find greener solutions to local problems. A car share scheme is a far more environmentally-friendly option for the town as it allows many people to use just one car and the vehicle chosen will be economical with low emissions.

There are similar schemes already running in Oxford and Swindon and some projects across the country have evolved into allowing people access to electric cars and bikes.

The proposed Banbury scheme would be run by an independent company called Co-Wheels which currently runs similar ones in more than 60 locations.

Andrew Jenkins, a volunteer with CAG and keen supporter of the scheme, said: “The car would be owned by the company Co-Wheels. It’s a non-profit organisation and they have one in Oxford. So its idea is to reduce the number of cars on the road and to make transport easier for people.”

To make the scheme viable in Banbury, the number of regular users needed is surprisingly low.

Mr Jenkins explained: “Co-Wheels predicts that if it can get between 15 and 20 people using it, as and when, that kind of makes it worth while for them.

“If you use it once a month and you have 20 people that’s 20 days in a month it is being used.”

The survey was put online just before the May bank holiday and already the response has been positive with 33 people completing the survey with around 20 saying they would want to take part in the scheme.

Mr Jenkins said: “People are really excited about it and there have been lots of comments on social media.”

The location of the car, if the plan goes ahead, has yet to be decided and no official talks with the local authorities have yet taken place, but ideally a central, town centre location is preferred.

The costs, however, have been determined which CAG says are not as much as you might think.

Mr Jenkins said: “You would sign up online, you pay £5 a month, every month for the use of the car and there is an online booking system where you can book it for say Tuesday between 10am and noon and it will bill you monthly by direct debit.”

Users could also book the car for overnight use.

The online survey can be found at www.banburycag.org.uk and will be posted until May 29.

If the response is favourable, the next steps will be to implement the scheme as soon as possible.

Mr Jenkins said: “We are going to contact Co-Wheels soon to let them know it is on its way. The quicker we pick a date the quicker we can get it done, but if we can get a car in place by the summer then that would be brilliant.”