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This article was adapted from our latest book, "Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons." Download your free pdf copy today.

Australia's culture of car dependency is creating unnecessary urban congestion, time and financial costs for households and business, and contributing to Australia’s high level of carbon emissions. The city of Sydney introduced a car-sharing policy in 2011 to encourage shared use of vehicles.

Car-sharing operators must offer fuel-efficient and low-emissions vehicles, make the cars available via a 24-hour web- and phone-based booking system, and provide a monthly report on the use of car-sharing parking spaces. The policy contains provisions that prevent spaces allocated to car sharing from being sold or transferred to new operators, and there is an annual fee for car-sharing operators to cover the administration costs of the policy.

According to the city of Sydney, they currently provide around 700 car-sharing spaces, which are utilized by two operators. As reported by Sydney Media, just five years after the policy was introduced the city has already exceeded its target of signing up 10 percent of households by 2016. Moreover, an average of nine people sign up to the scheme every day, which is utilized by over 26,000 customers — roughly 19,000 residents and 7,000 local businesses. An independent evaluation of the policy's impact was commissioned by the city in 2012. The SGS Economics and Planning study found that car sharing had already saved users $21 million per year, mostly from deferred car purchases amounting to $18.5 million. The policy also contributed to decreased travel times, reduced congestion, and lower carbon emissions.

View the full policy here. Activating the Urban Commons

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Header image by Hamish Weir on Unsplash

Sharon Ede


Sharon Ede |

Sharon is an urbanist and activist who works to build the sharing/collaborative movement in Australia and beyond. In 2017, she established AUDAcities, a catalyst for relocalising production of food, energy and fabrication in