Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A 2010 update on carsharing in Greece :
World Streets Annual New Mobility Country Reviews

Carsharing, like Rome, is not built in a day. At least not formal carsharing as we are seeing it develop in many countries now at, in places, rapid and highly satisfying rate. The following short report comes from colleagues who are involved in an attempted laying the groundwork for the first formal carsharing project in Greece. This is one of the EU "momo Car-Sharing" projects to encourage carshare development throughout Europe. We invite you to have a look and to share your thoughts and comments with the authors or with our readers more generally.

Car-Sharing in Greece

- E. Tritopoulou and M. Zarkadoula. CRES. Department of Environment and Transport.

Car-Sharing is a new mobility pattern which can contribute to the protection of the environment by reducing traffic, resulting cleaner and more sustainable cities. Car-Sharing, integrated with the "eco-modes" (public transport, cycling and walking), may be considered as an appropriate and valid element in the urban transport mix.

The mobility situation in Greece
Transport is of fundamental importance to human society, providing mobility and facilitating industry and trade. Nevertheless it has also many environmental impacts. Therefore, it is crucial that transportation planning is carried out in a sustainable manner in order to meet optimum travel needs, promote economic prosperity and environmental preservation.

The transport sector in Greece is responsible for the 39% of the total energy consumption while in EU-27 it is 31%, respectively. In parallel, the road transport sector is responsible for about 80% of transport energy consumption as well as for 40% of the emissions of CO2 and 70% of the emissions of other pollutants.

Road transport is, also, responsible for serious accidents. In 2006, 370 people died in Greece, 26% of those were pedestrians and 74% drivers of cars and motorcycles.
The mean mobility duration by car and public means of transportation is 15% more than the duration in other European cities while the mean mobility distance is 26% less than the average distance in other European cities.

There is, also, a significant increase of the number of private cars. In 1990, the index of ownership was 170 cars/1000 inhabitants while in 2005 this index was raised to 393 cars/1000 inhabitants.

Nowadays, 35% of the population and 43% of the country’s vehicles are concentrated in Athens, the capital of Greece. The number of transportations is estimated to be in average 8.000.000 daily in Athens, of which 40-45% concerns transportations from and to work. This leads to increased traffic and to a reduction of the average mean speed. Increased traffic during the peak hours leads to a series of urban mobility problems such as increased cost for the maintenance of cars, high levels of stress for the drivers and increased levels of environmental pollution.

Transport Policies
The adaptation of a sustainable transport policy is of great significance for the Greek transport system. According to the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted in 1997, the EU and its Member States are committed to reducing the total emissions of six greenhouse gases by 8% comparing to the 1990 level, over the period 2008–2012. In this context the promotion of transport energy efficiency programs is of great significance.

The White Paper “European Transport Policy 2010 – a time to decide” and the Green Paper “Towards a new culture for urban mobility” 2007 suggest new mobility patterns, like Car-Sharing which can contribute to the optimum use of car.

The Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES) is the Greek national Centre for Renewable Energy Sources (RES), Rational Use of Energy (RUE) and Energy Saving (ES). The main goal of CRES is the promotion of RES, RUE/ES applications at a national and international level, as well as the support of relative activities taking into consideration the environmental impacts, in the production/transfer/energy-use chain. CRES is a scientific/technological establishment of international prestige, competent and qualified to offer valuable services supporting the planning and implementation of both national and European policies.

Pilot Program on Car-Sharing in Athens

CRES is participating in the European project momo Car-Sharing targeting to transfer the current European car sharing experience in Greece.

The key objective of Momo Car-Sharing is to contribute significantly to sustainable mobility patterns by establishing a mobility culture which is based on using various transport options instead of car-ownership. Car-Sharing has a great but unexploited potential at a European scale. Being a type of decentralised car-rental service, Car-Sharing supplements the sustainable transport modes of walking, cycling and Public Transport – thus giving an alternative to car-ownership without any restriction for individual mobility. With Car-Sharing as a market-based service, transport can be organised more rationally and more resource-efficient.

The European momo-project wants to increase awareness, to improve the service of Car-Sharing and to increase the energy-efficiency within the existing Car-Sharing operations. The momo consortium is composed of municipalities, Car-Sharing operators, research organisations, energy agencies and the International Public Transport organisation UITP. As an ambitious target, momo is going to extend Car-Sharing services at a European scale by 20,000 new Car-Sharing customers in total – with significant impacts on transport patterns, energy consumption (- 58,000 GJ p.a), CO2-emissions (- 6,000 t p.a) and on the reallocation of urban space (about 3,500 parking spaces to be available for other purposes).

CRES is planning a pilot Car-Sharing program in Greece, starting in the city of Athens and with a further goal to result in a professional service in the future.
CRES has already started a Market Analysis, in order to find areas that have a high number of success factors, such as:
– high population and jobs density
– higher than average income and social class
– higher employment rates
– higher affluence, lower deprivation scores
– ability to support a sustainable lifestyle and promotion of multimodal transport use, e.g. key services within walking distance, good public transport links, local employment and residential densities that are sufficient to support a walkable city/town/neighbourhood
– limited parking space to make car ownership become less and less attractive to local residents.

Previous surveys have resulted in that the typical customer profile is the intelligent urban citizen with above average income and education. CRES is trying to identify the right place to start according to the demographic characteristics and the education levels of the citizens. The right place seems to be the area with a high density of people that have less access to a privately-owned motor car, people that use alternative modes of transport for regular journeys to work, school or college and people that live in blocks of flats, and who are therefore more likely to face parking difficulties.

As a start, CRES is planning the establishment of three stations with three cars each. These three stations could be placed in the centre of Athens, another in the north suburbs of Athens and the last one in the south suburbs.

CRES organised a workshop in Athens with the title “CAR-SHARING – innovative solution for Greek cities” on 17 December 2009. This workshop was attended by representatives of the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the Athens Urban Transport Organisation, the Attiko Metro S.A., the municipality of Athens and other municipalities, car rental companies, the National Technical University of Athens, the Hellenic Institute of Transportation Engineers, the Athens International Airport and other policy makers.

The General Secretary of Energy and Climate Change announced the political support of the Ministry to new mobility patterns like Car-Sharing which lead to “Green Development”. Besides the political support and the integration of car-sharing into the policies and strategies of the Ministry, CRES will also try to achieve a financial and legal support, at least for the initial stages of the Car-Sharing. One example could be to allow the use of public and on-street spaces for parking car-sharing vehicles and the provision of official road signs to support car-sharing in such locations.

CRES has already received positive attitude and support from the Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) and will support Car-Sharing as a complementary service within the public transport system. OASA will also provide motivation to the Car-Sharing users by offering reduced tickets for public transport and by joining promotional activities for Car-Sharing. CRES also tries to achieve support from Attiko Metro and other public transport operators.

Many municipalities, including the city of Athens, have expressed their interest to participate in the pilot program by providing free parking spaces for Car-Sharing vehicles.

CRES intends to cooperate with Greek Car Rental Association members like Hertz and Avis for the operation of the Car-Sharing pilot program. These companies have great experience on car-rental systems, and they are capable of operating or assisting in the management of such a pilot program. Hertz already provides Car-Sharing programs in London, Paris and other European cities. Therefore Hertz Hellas is thinking very seriously to proceed in a Car-Sharing program in Athens. Even if, a partnership will not be achieved, car-rental companies can participate in the Car-Sharing program by providing car rental as a complementary service for Car-Sharing and by offering reduced prices for Car-Sharing users.

In addition, to guarantee a professional and qualitative Car-Sharing service, an adequate system provider is necessary. The system provider will supply the service with software and modern technology regarding the reservation and car access system. CRES has asked for offers from some system providers. When the partnership will be formed, it will be responsible to decide.

CRES is focused on the organization of a pilot on Car-Sharing in Athens by exploiting the experience gained by the momo Car-Sharing project and the available network.

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About the authors:

Efi Tritopoulou - etrito@cres.gr -- is a PhD chemical engineer with ten years of experience in a range of R&D activities. She is a member of the transportation & environmental planning department of the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving-CRES since 2006. She has worked in several important EU and national projects related to environmental planning of RES projects, energy policy and energy technologies for RES. She has also a experience in sustainability, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, and mobility management in transport sector.

Maria Zarkadoula - mariazar@cres.gr - is an Agricultural Engineer, with an M.Sc. in Energy and Environmental Protection Management Systems. She works for the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources & Saving since 1990, and is currently responsible for the Department of Transport and Environment. She is a member of the “Green Transports” committee supervised by the Ministry of Transport as a tool on the promotion of a sustainable policy in the field of transport.

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