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CarShare Vermont: Transforming Vermont’s Energy Sector One Car at a Time

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One of the cars in CarShare's fleet
Photo credit: Nick Bucci

Source: Kevin O'Connor, EAN/University of Vermont Clean Energy Internship Program

CarShare Vermont offers Vermonters a great alternative to owning a car. By providing access to affordable, convenient, and reliable cars CarShare Vermont offers transportation to people who cannot or do not want to maintain their own vehicle. AND it has a positive impacts on the environmental, social, and economic wellbeing of Vermont and our planet.

Carshare Vermont is a nonprofit organization that was launched in 2008 and currently has 18 vehicles operating in the state. Of these 18 vehicles, 15 are located in Burlington, 1 in Winooski, and 2 in Montpelier.  Since opening, CarShare Vermont’s membership has grown to approximately 1,100 members.  

Combined, these members have removed the equivalent of 270 cars from the road and have prevented an estimated amount of 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide from reaching the air annually.

Drive Clean!

About half of CarShare Vermont’s vehicles are environmentally friendly Toyota Priuses. Priuses are hybrid vehicles that emit around 25-30% less carbon dioxide than an average car. Priuses also have a high mile per gallon rating, making them extremely efficient (up to 58 city/53 highway). Carshare Vermont's fleet also includes other types of vehicles to meet different needs, including a Toyota Tacoma, named Tammy, and a Dodge Caravan, named Gerry, for those who need larger vehicles.

The cars are located in a decentralized network of “pods," where the cars are parked when not in use. Pods are located in high-density areas – easily accessible to members on foot, bike, or bus. The members can locate the pods online, then reserve a car 24/7 for the time period they need. 

CarShare Membership Gives You Options

To join CarShare Vermont all you need is your driver license number, a clean two year driving history, and to be at least 18 years old. The application process is simple and quick.   After joining CarShare, members pay an hourly rate and a mileage rate. There are different rates for members based on how much they may want to drive. Within these different rates, the cost of gasoline and insurance is covered. By paying for mileage, members are incentivized to drive less and be more conscious of the pollution emitted. There are also different rates for businesses, and students can join for free.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Alicia Taylor, the Director of Community Engagement of CarShare Vermont, said that, “65% of our members either shed a vehicle or decide not to purchase one” after joining CarShare Vermont. This results in around 80% of CarShare Vermont members being 0-1 car families.  According to Andy Simon, a CarShare Vermont member, "Carsharing makes sense for your pocketbook, for Burlington, and for the planet. We sold our car when we joined CarShare Vermont in 2009 and we've never looked back."  

Not only does CarShare Vermont provide an affordable option for transportation, it also offers an opportunity to transform our transportation sector to make it more sustainable. In Vermont, cars contribute to around 57% of greenhouse gas emissions. Car sharing organizations encourage people to drive less, which results in less carbon dioxide to be emitted. As Alicia Taylor said, “When people join CarShare Vermont, they tend to drive 40 to 50% less on average."  The combined result of 1,100 members using CarShare Vermont is 2 million fewer miles driven per year! To put this into perspective, that’s equivalent to driving around the earth 109 times.

Members of CarShare Vermont have found other ways of getting from place to place. For instance, members have reported a 40% increase of walking and biking.  CarShare Vermont is also helping getting traffic off the road.  As Alicia Taylor said, “Every vehicle we put in our fleet replaces 15 in the community.”

CarShare Vermont has also helped businesses. Mike Napolitan of Cx Associates LLC in Burlington said that, “CarShare Vermont has been an ideal fit for our company. It allows our employees to commute to work using greener modes of transportation even if they have a site visit or a dentist appointment mid day.”

CarShare Vermont plans to add a 19th vehicle this summer, and will continue to expand their fleet so that more people can reap the benefits that this car share organization offers.