For reasons of pollution, congestion, and limited investment resources, Latin American cities are in active search for innovative transportation solutions…
A recent preliminary analysis of the possibilities for car sharing organisations in Latin America revealed promising potential…
- in Latin America and other developing regions of the world environmental concerns might sometimes fall behind more immediate daily concerns among large segments of the population to satisfy basic needs – such as food and housing. Nonetheless, environmental issues are growing in importance among a spectrum of income groups, particularly in Latin America’s most notoriously polluted cities. In such cases, CSOs might take hold as a tool to help mitigate transportation’s negative environmental effects;
- a significant difference between the Latin American countries and the higher income countries where carsharing has been attempted is that Latin American cities have large low/middle income populations that do not have cars, but do have reliable incomes. These incomes are not high, however, and priorities on housing, education and other essentials do not leave income sufficient to own a car. Since the transit network is reasonably complete, there is less need for a car than in higher income countries. Some of these families hope to own a car in the future, but for many that is not a reasonable aspiration;
- furthermore, many of these families live in localities where garaging would be impossible and protection of a car from theft and vandalism would be very difficult. (In many cities of Latin America people never leave cars parked on the street over night.) As a result, car ownership for these families would mean moving to a higher income, lower density part of town;
- more generally, in many cities there are concerns about personal security that lead to avoiding taxis, especially at night. At the municipal theatre in Bogota, for example, there are no taxis waiting outside at the end of an evening performance. People simply will not use them;
- not only were a number of different trip types and users identified as feasible CSO customers, but an analysis conducted based on current average auto ownership and usage costs in Santiago de Chile suggests the financial competitiveness of carsharing. The analysis showed that car sharing would be a financially attractive alternative for car users who use their own vehicle less than 6,000 to 8,000 kilometres per year. Perhaps more importantly, the car share option was shown to be competitive with its most likely close competitor in Santiago the taxi over a range of trip distances/times;
- while these results are promising, several barriers remain regarding a CSO's real feasibility in the Latin American context, including: the status conveyed by car ownership; the intensive use of autos by owners; and the lack of awareness of real vehicle ownership/operating costs. In the end, the real possibilities for and benefits of a CSO in Latin America can only be known through more detailed market research and market demand surveys and a pilot project. Long-term implications for motorisation rates, pollution, congestion, etc. are even less certain.