An all-electric, community car club has been launched this week in St Andrews. The project is being run by the University in partnership with Transport Scotland and operators E-Car.
Students, businesses and residents will all have the opportunity to rent one of the 10 electric cars that will be available in St Andrews. There are three charging locations for the cars which are located at Agnes Blackadder Hall, David Russell Apartments and the Gateway.
Members of the club, which costs £50 to join, will be able to rent the cars at a cost of £4.50 per hour, or £35 for a day.
Members will be supplied with a membership card and pin number which they can use to book the use of a car; either online or by phone. When the vehicle is booked, the card can be used to unlock the car. The member then enters their pin number into the on-board computer and the keys will be released.
The cars can travel for around 65-90 miles on a single charge and there are more charging locations in places such as Dundee and Edinburgh.
A spokesperson for the University explained that the scheme is intended to “improve local mobility, whilst reducing parking and congestion issues in an environmentally-friendly and affordable way.”
Patrick Cresswell, marketing manager for E-Car, the company running the scheme, emphasised the improvements to local mobility and congestion the cars could bring to St Andrews. “We’re really keen for people to use the cars to explore Fife and beyond,” he told The Saint.
“What we’re trying to achieve is a reduction in private car ownership because, for the individual, owning a car is a great expense,” he added. “For the local community, private car ownership causes parking issues and congestion issues, so if we can take more cars off the road we’re improving the slickness of everywhere in which we operate.”
“Car-sharing in general is really good as it can reduce costs for people,” said Tracy Mckenna, a representative of Transport Scotland speaking to The Saint. “Another important thing about the cars is that they don’t have any tailpipe emissions, so hopefully it should help the air quality in St Andrews.”
Matthew Eastwood, a car club development manager with Carplus who are helping to fund the scheme, also spoke about the environmental and financial benefits of the cars. He said: “The Scottish Government has set some very ambitious targets for de-carbonising road transport by 2050, and car clubs like this give people convenient and affordable access to a car without the need to own one.
“Each car club car takes 15 cars off the road, as a proportion of car club members, once they join, they sell their own car or defer the purchase of a car.”
Mr Eastwood also spoke about how the car club will benefit the local St Andrews environment. “It frees up road space and parking space by making sure there are less cars on the road,” he said.
Members of the town community also expressed excitement about the new scheme, with St Andrews resident Anna Kucharska saying that it “would be a good idea for the future” and she would definitely consider using the service.
Transition St Andrews, a group working to promote efforts to tackle climate change and protect the environment in St Andrews, also gave their support to the project. Paul White, a project officer with the group, is one of those helping to coordinate the car club.
“Transition is all about getting people to reduce their carbon footprint,” he told The Saint. “Transport contributes quite a lot to your average person’s carbon footprint, so being able to access a car club, where you don’t have to own your own car, you can share with others, reduces your carbon footprint,” he added.
“And also the fact these are electric vehicles and they have no emissions means that we’re preventing more CO2 emissions which is really key to what Transition does.”
Transition initiatives already underway include a “grow your own” food co-op, a home energy advice scheme targeting rural households and a town wide bike maintenance and rental programme.