One of the most consistent struggles of modern cities is providing sustainable and efficient urban mobility. To do so, a city must have an integrated approach to planning that considers all forms of transportation, both within the city and surrounding areas. According to European Union policies, sustainable urban mobility measures should seek to ensure that all people have access to transportation systems, while improving safety and security, reducing pollution, and improving the cost efficiency of urban transportation.
More and more, cities around the world are trying to encourage a different kind of lifestyle, one where public transportation, which creates less pollution than individual cars, is used more frequently. In the last few years, residents of Milan, Italy have joined this trend, and have been slowly changing their transportation habits. One important change has been the improvement and diversification of the city's car-sharing options.
Car sharing is a service designed as an extension of the transportation network and meant to enhance mobility options. It helps members save money on the cost of individual car ownership by allowing people to share fuel-efficient vehicles when a car is needed. Car sharing is primarily designed for shorter trips, as part of its mission is to encourage members to drive less frequently and use other modes of transportation when possible. Milan has several active car-sharing networks that allow a variety of options, as explained below: GuidaMi represents ATM's car-sharing option. It has the advantage of offering customers the ability to choose the type of car they wish to rent, according to their needs. Enjoy is a car-sharing service provided by Eni that can be found in Florence and Rome, as well as Milan. The inconvenience of this service is that the registration process only works with an Italian drivers license, making it impossible for residents with EU or non-EU drivers licenses to use.
E-Vai Sems and EQ Sharing are two eco-friendly, electric options that move people around Milan. The former is sponsored by the Lombardy Region and TrenNord, while the latter is an option developed in anticipation of Expo 2015. The disadvantage of these programs is that, unlike with the other options, electric cars must be refueled by being plugged in and charged at one of their own stations. Finally, Car2Go, known for its white Smart cars, provides the benefit of international mobility. Whether you are in Hamburg, Amsterdam, Vienna, Milan, or Rome, you have the possibility of renting a Car2Go with the same membership card. The white Smart automobiles that the service uses are easy to park in the crowded city of Milan.
All of these car sharing options require some basic online registration steps, asking for drivers license and credit card information along with a user fee. The membership card must then be picked up from one of the service's offices. The membership card also serves as a key to unlock and start the car. The last step of the process is to download the system's mobile application, which allows one to track and reserve a car when needed. The trips are automatically charged to one's credit card, and each brand has different costs and services included.
There are many advantages to the car-sharing system in Milan. One of the greatest is that it eliminates the need for a parking space or a garage. Most of the car-sharing systems allow you the freedom to park and leave the car wherever you want, without the responsibility of returning it to a service point. Furthermore, in a city like Milan, where parking space is limited, car sharing can help eliminate transportation stress. Another advantage is having free access to the central area of Milan, where access is restricted and one must pay a tax to enter by car.
What do you think about the use of car-sharing systems? Are there car-sharing services available where you live? Share your thoughts and car-sharing stories in the comments below.
Credits: Images by Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.