Although every CSO is different, carsharing has a number of distinct characteristics that are the same within every CSO:
- Carsharing is defined by its environmental and social purpose, rather than business and financial objectives.
- Carsharing is designed for local users in support of community transit and environmental goals. Its mission, vision and values lead to actions aimed at decreasing personal car ownership, reducing vehicle distance travelled, improving urban land use and development, providing affordable access to vehicles for all constituencies, as well as motivating residents to walk, cycle and take buses and trains, and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels while reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.
- Carsharing is a membership based service available to all qualified drivers in a community. No separate written agreement is required each time a member reserves and uses a vehicle. All CSOs offer members access to a dispersed network of shared vehicles 24-hours, 7 days a week at unattended self-service locations.
Carsharing is primarily designed for shorter time and shorter distance trips as an extension of the transportation network, providing a public service designed to enhance mobility options. Longer trips may be available to further discourage car ownership. CSOs help members save money over the cost of individual car ownership by encouraging members to drive less often, plan trips more, use other modes of transportation more, and share fuel efficient vehicles when a car is needed.
For a more robust definition of carsharing, download our complete Code of Ethics.