Geoffrey Dunstan rents out his car through the peer-to-peer sharing company Car Next Door. (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)
Whether it’s driving all over the city in the search for a home, hauling furniture, or shopping, apartment dwellers Erin Padbury and Alisdair Horgen often need a car. But they’d never dream of buying one.
- Moreland City is first council in Australia to set aside parking spots for peer-to-peer share cars
- The model means cars aren’t owned by a company, but individuals
- Users say peer-to-peer sharing “could potentially reduce the amount of privately owned cars”
“I don’t think I would ever own a car again, living in the city,” Ms Padbury said.
For her, car sharing is the perfect solution.
“It’s mostly about the convenience,” she said. “Being able to pick up a car whenever and drop it back whenever.”
But for Ms Padbury and her partner, there’s something slightly different about the cars they pay to use for a few hours at a time.
They aren’t owned by a big car-sharing company — they’re owned by individuals, like Geoffrey Dunstan.
“I think people who know Airbnb get it. It’s very similar. It’s like an Airbnb, but for cars,” he said.
He rents his car through peer-to-peer car-sharing company Car Next Door. He doesn’t make big money — up to $300 a month.
But it’s more than enough to cover his car registration, insurance and other costs.
“There’s a lot of people who love their car way too much to let somebody else use it,” he said.
“For those of us who just think of it as a way to get from A to B, it’s a great use of resources.”
Discouraging car ownership in Melbourne’s north
Just two spots have so far been set aside by Moreland City Council. (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)
Moreland City Council, in Melbourne’s north, agrees. It’s become the first council in Australia to set aside parking spots for peer-to-peer share cars. One of them is directly in front of Mr Dunstan’s house.
“We are one of the fastest growing cities … in Melbourne,” councillor Mark Riley said.
“With all of that extra population, and the pressure that brings, we can’t possibly accommodate all of those cars on the street.”
For years, Moreland City Council has promoted development that discourages car ownership.
For example, apartment buildings near train lines have limited numbers of parking spaces, or none at all.
Setting aside parking spaces for peer-to-peer car share is part of that plan.
“This is a great way of using a really important resource like a car … it might as well be shared and used and socialised, so we get benefits for everyone,” Cr Riley said.
For now, just two spots have been set aside. But that number could increase and other councils in Melbourne are considering similar moves.
‘It’s a win-win situation’
The peer-to-peer version is still a small part of the car-share model. But it’s growing quickly.
Car Next Door said it had more than 1,000 cars available to rent and more than 40,000 members.
“Who knows what’s going to be happening with cars? Maybe it’s driverless cars in the future,” Mr Dunstan said.
“This is kind of that intermediate step, where we stop having streets full of cars that aren’t being used.”
For car-sharing couple Erin and Alisdair, the idea that they’re making a social contribution by choosing not to own a car is part of the appeal.
“I like that it could potentially reduce the amount of privately owned cars,” Ms Padbury said.
For Mr Horgen, one of the things he likes best is knowing he’s renting from an individual owner, not from a company.
“It’s a win-win situation. Because that person is acknowledging it’s good to share what they have, rather than just keep it for themself,” he said.