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The Alternatives To Owning A Car

Owning and running a car, especially whilst at university, is an impossible dream for many  and not even particularly appealing to some.

Rising costs make owning a car increasingly difficult and ever growing environmental awareness leads many students to be reluctant to add another set of emissions anyway.

But what can you do when public transport, pedal power or walking isn’t an option to get to your destination?

The options are increasing.

1. Join a car club 

Car clubs are a growing phenomenon, providing the ability for people to sign up and either pay a monthly subscription or one-off fees for access to a fleet of vehicles for short or long term hire fees.

Options such as E-Car allow subscribers access to electric vehicles. This comes with all the environmental benefits they offer and none of the downsides of generally higher than average purchase prices when compared to conventional cars.

Subscribers book a vehicle then turn up at the allotted time, unplug it and drive away. Vehicles can be booked for as little as an hour or as long as desired.

Car clubs often offer the added convenience of all-inclusive pricing systems with insurance, London congestion charge, fuel and roadside assistance routinely built in.

2. Discover mobility as a service 

An idea that is already used in Europe, with Finland’s capital Helsinki leading the way, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is also emerging in the UK. 

It sees an integrated payment and booking app for several forms of transport. A number of UK trails have already been run, including in the West Midlands and Scotland.

MaaS is a little like an extended version of London’s Oyster card or Travelcard, which allows travel on Tube, overground rail and buses with one payment method.

The difference is it is generally powered by an app and may be extended to integrate booking and payment for private services such as car or bike sharing or rental and taxis too.

3. Electric and folding bikes

The sight of commuters hopping off the underground or bus with a folding bike under their arm is nothing new, but it remains a great and convenient way to combine public transport with easy and speedy onward travel to your exact destination.

Electric bikes are another way to cover more ground than you might under only your own steam and can negate the need for a vehicle, especially if your journeys are relatively local.

It could be tempting to invest in an electric scooter, but beware of the legalities of riding them.

Whilst electric scooters are popular and trials have been held to increase their use in some cities around the world, in the UK it’s illegal to ride them on the road and not permitted to use them on paths either due to safety concerns for pedestrians and riders.

4. Why owning a car may soon become even less desirable 

There are increasing moves across the UK to reduce and limit car use.

A number of local authorities are already working on plans to bar all or certain vehicles from city centres.

Bristol has approved plans to ban diesel cars from the city centre, whilst York wants all private cars to be barred from the city by 2023. Only cars with the cleanest engines will be permitted in Glasgow from as early as 2020.

Many cities have already introduced school streets schemes, banning cars from the areas around schools at pupil drop off and pick up times in a bid to reduce air pollution, congestion and increase safety.

Tech blogger and business marketing strategist Niv Calderon has said: “By 2030, people will have been born into the ride-sharing/car-sharing economy, just like people who are today 15 and grew up not knowing a world without smartphones.

“I think 'usership' and 'subscription' models will eventually overtake traditional car ownership in some parts of the world.”