Too much traffic and too little parking may be a frustrating reality for Honolulu commuters. But in cities across the country, these are driving forces behind the increased popularity of car sharing. A relatively new industry in Hawai’i. HPR’s Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi reports.
After several months of test driving,Servco Pacific and Toyota Connect launchedHui Car Shareyesterday at 25 locations throughouturban Honolulu.
“This is something that gives drivers the benefits of driving without the cost and hassle of owning a car,” says Mark Fukunaga, Servco President & CEO, “We’ve seen around the world where car sharing has reduced traffic congestion, freed up parking spaces, and improved air quality.”
Users can choose from a fleet of 70 Toyota and Lexus vehicles, including the Prius, Camry, and Lexus RX – all accessible by smart phone.
Hui Director Peter Fukunaga demonstrates.
Cost savings and convenience are also big drivers of car sharing in Hawai’i. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), owning and operating a vehicle in the United States costs nearly $8,500 a year – a figure that is likely higher in Hawai’i given the local price of gas.
“Why pay 100 percent for the car when you use it 5 percent of the time?” says Mark Fukunaga.
Drivers can rent a Hui car for $9.95 an hour or $79.95 for the day. The cost includes gas, insurance, and roadside assistance.
But there are challenges says Aki Marceau, policy director at Elemental Excelerator and chair of the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawai’i.
“One of the biggest challenges that I see is not the fault of the Hui Car Share system but the structure that’s in place right now,” says Marceau, “which is that currently we cannot have on-street parking for car share systems.”
A Honolulu city ordinance prevents the use of street parking for commercial entities. Instead, Hui worked with private land owners and parking lot operators to house their fleet. Marceau says car share company Car2Go pulled out of Hawaiʻi back in 2015 because of this issue.
“And I think that’s a huge opportunity for both (Honolulu) City Council as well as the City & County of Honolulu, as well as the state at-large to really think holistically about how we want to prioritize our parking spaces on the road to enhance car sharing opportunities,” says Marceau.
Today, there are more than two dozen companies competing for business in a car sharing industry that has been around for about 15 years. Advocates say increased concern over the environment and decreased popularity of car ownership among millennials may spur industry growth.
“Certainly it’s not going to 100-percent replace the need for car ownership, but it does do – in addition to a lot of other kind of “sharing economy” models similar to Biki Bike Share – is it provides an alternative to car ownership.”