Over the past several years, the sharing economy has taken hold in cities across the country. One that could get more attention in Hawai‘i is the expansion of car sharing. HPR’s Molly Solomon takes a look at what that might mean for one neighborhood in particular.
UH Mānoa researcher Andy Yamaguchi walks past dueling construction sites in Kaka‘ako. It’s a common backdrop in the neighborhood, as it develops into the latest part of the urban residential core.
“You might hear construction activity and the beep, beep, beep of reversing trucks,” he said. “If it’s not already, this will be one of the densest residential neighborhoods in Honolulu.”
The area is home to more than two dozen large residential buildings, with about 14 more in the pipeline. Yamaguchi says that makes it a prime place to have alternate forms of transportation.
“This is in a way, kind of a laboratory for transportation in the future,” said Yamaguchi. “I think people will have a lot of choices here.”
One transit option Yamaguchi is focusing on is the idea of car sharing. That allows people to have access to a vehicle without actually having to own it. Renters take a car when they want it, drive it anywhere within a designated area and then just park it and leave.
“It’s for more frequent, short duration use,” said Yamaguchi, like when you want to go to the store or a doctor’s appointment. “They try to base it very close to where you need it, near commercial districts or people’s homes, so you can have quick access to the car.”
Car sharing isn’t a new idea and has actually been operating in the islands since 2012. But cars are mostly located in a handful of spots near the University and Waikīkī. Yamaguchi is interested in testing whether that service would translate to condominiums in Kaka‘ako, starting first with a transportation survey in the neighborhood.
“Part of my survey is to see how receptive people would be to a change,” he explained. “To see if a car share type situation would be preferable to owning their own car.”
Other cities have embraced car sharing, even changing land use codes to accommodate car-sharing services. San Francisco now mandates that larger residential buildings have at least one car share space for residents to use. Other cities have reduced the number of parking spaces in condominiums in exchange for car share spots. UC Berkeley researcher Elliot Martin specializes in transportation. In a recent study on the company Car2Go, Martin looked at five different cities. He estimates the car sharing service resulted in 28,000 fewer vehicles on the road.
“They may end up getting rid of a car or avoiding a car,” said Martin. “That can lead to substantive reductions in driving.”
Back on O‘ahu, the results of Yamaguchi’s survey are in the early stages and are still rolling in. So far, two-thirds have said they’d be extremely or somewhat likely to use car sharing.
If you’re a resident in Kaka‘ako, follow this link to the survey and share your opinion on car sharing.