New car club hopes people will hire rather than buy

PUBLISHED: 12:57 17 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:05 06 May 2010

One of the Citroen C1 cars available for hire

One of the Citroen C1 cars available for hire

A NEW car-hire project is being introduced in St Albans in an attempt to reduce car ownership, congestion and pollution. The district council has signed up car-hire firm Whizzgo to run a pay–per-hour car club as part of its green travel scheme. Whizzgo, w

A NEW car-hire project is being introduced in St Albans in an attempt to reduce car ownership, congestion and pollution.

The district council has signed up car-hire firm Whizzgo to run a pay-per-hour car club as part of its green travel scheme.

Whizzgo, which runs car clubs in 11 other cities in the country, will park cars in Church Crescent, Cross Street, London Road, Hall Place Gardens, and Charter Close, where club members can pick up and return them.

The scheme is being launched next Wednesday, March 26, with the intention that people will use the cars instead of buying their own and as a consequence congestion and pollution will be reduced in the city.

Car-club members will be able to book the vehicles by phone or online as little as 30 seconds before using them and will have a smartcard to unlock and start the car.

They will then pay £4.95 an hour to drive them which covers fuel, tax and insurance. When the car is returned to one of the five locations, a log of how long it has been used will be sent to Whizzgo who will then charge the user.

To begin with there will be a total of 10 petrol-powered Citroen C1 one-litre cars, two of which will be parked at each location, although the scheme may be expanded later.

People wanting to join the car club will have to pay £25 for a smartcard and a one-off £125 insurance deposit; refundable when they leave the scheme.

Sustainability leader for the council Trevor Brennan said that if the car needed filling up, the driver would use a fuel card stored in the car to pay but it was the responsibility of the user to fill the car up for the next person.

He added that if a driver returned to the Whizzgo parking bays to find them occupied, the cars could be parked on double yellow lines nearby without having to fear about getting a parking ticket; thanks to a deal with the parking services company NCP.

Cllr Mike Ellis, portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, said the community needed to reduce their emissions and he hoped residents would seriously consider whether they needed a first or second car if they knew they could hire a low-emissions car from a central location.

The Citroen C1 one-litre produces 109 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre and its average fuel economy figure is 61.4 miles per gallon.

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