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March 2009

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« The Congestion Charge and the end of innovation | Main | Significant ideas are subject of great debates »


Malcolm Alexander

I read your comment with interest. Streetcar and other similar schemes are a good business idea and have the potential to encourage many city dwellers to get rid of their cars. However, as a resident within the congestion zone, I have just decided not to join Streetcar on the basis that claiming the congestion charge discount from TFL, is simply too much of an admin overhead.
Mostly the cars in car sharing schemes will be used by local residents. They will be using them as a substitute for the car journeys they would normally have undertaken with their own cars. So that extent TFL are correct, there is little reduction in traffic as a result of such schemes. The only benefit to London would be less cars parked on the roads of London. The main benefits arise from i) individuals saving money on car ownership and ii) the profit for companies like Streetcar. Neither of which justify not paying the congestion charge. I am personally disappointed because I would like to have used it as a means to get rid of my car, however, unfortunately I think TFL are right in their assertion.


Malcolm Alexander

Nico Macdonald

Malcolm: I agree with you about the admin overhead of claiming back the Congestion Charge for shared cars. However, while car sharing schemes are well-designed and convenient, particularly in reducing the hassle of using/owning a car, they are not as convenient as actually having a car. Car owners can typically park near to their homes, leave effects in the car, and have car 'infrastructure' (child seats, sat nav systems, audio kit) permanently 'installed'. Not so with shared cars. Thus, the overhead of using the car discourages direct substitution. Also, shared cars tend to be newer and better maintained, thus less polluting, addressing the newer objectives of the Congestion Charge. So, my belief is that car sharing schemes reduce car usage, for better or worse. Since this post, I have expanded on this theme in an article in spiked -- see the update at the end.

Federico Flego

There's another problem with some car sharing companies as, for example, Streetcar. You're asked to pay for damages to their vehicles caused while they are not used by any customer. No matter if you didn't do it and returned the car without any damage. If the following user reports a damage the previous user will very likely be blamed for it and charged consequently. This happened recently to me (180 pounds):

To Benet (607 pounds) which managed to block his credit card:

And I was recently contacted (thanx to the website) by a woman from London which, almost crying, told me the same was happening to her. She was blamed for a 355 pounds damage to a van that she returned without any damage.

The problem is that their cars are parked in public parkings and there's nobody to check them at the end of each user booking. If in between users, someone just reverses into the Streetcar vehicle and damage it, Streetcar seems not very happy to account that as running cost and tries to recover the money from the last unlucky user. Consider that the answer I was given as a proof of my responsibility for the damage was just: our technician stated that. Easy, don't you think? :)

Watch out when and if you use it!



I have been a member of Streetcar for 6 months until this week. It's all nice and easy until...

You receive an e-mail stating there was a damage to the car after you left it.

I am being charged 860 pounds for a significant damage which was not on the car when I left it. Customer Services Team is useless, you can never speak to a Manager, they never call you back when you ask them to. They don't care anyway as they just take the money from your credit card !

Many more customers have suffered unjustified charges! be careful for 860 pounds you can buy a second hand car.

Do not subscribe ! it could become the most expensive trip ever !!

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