Wandsworth Car Club Goes Into Overdrive

As part of council scheme to provide cheaper, greener, faster travel options

Wandsworth Council is to increase by five-fold the number of car club parking spaces on local streets.

The total number of bays set aside for car club vehicles is set to rise from 31 to 150 over the next four months. The long term aim is for 1,000 on-street bays across the borough.

The council first introduced on-street hire cars in 2007 when it teamed up with car club operator Streetcar.

Since then more bays have gradually been introduced and the number of Wandsworth club members has rocketed from 1,750 to well over 10,000 - a more than 600 per cent rise over four years. Only one other borough - Islington - has more members.

Independent research shows that, on average, one car club vehicle results in a reduction of 20 privately owned cars in the local area.

Council transport spokesman Cllr Russell King said: "Wandsworth is already the car club capital of south London and this next phase of investment will propel us further ahead. We want every one in the borough to have easy access to the scheme.

"The key reason we support the service is that it gives people the option of giving up their own vehicle while still having access to a car when they need it. It also helps two car households drop down to one. The result is more vacant parking spaces in the local area and fewer cars clogging up the streets. 

"All of Wandsworth's car club vehicles are modern, fuel efficient and well maintained which is good news for local air quality. The scheme also leads to less driving as the cost is more transparent and members tend to walk or cycle short journeys rather than automatically jumping in the car. This leads to further drops in traffic congestion, less exhaust emissions and a healthier lifestyle for those who sign up.

"It's also a great way for people to save money. The only costs are the membership fee and then you pay for the time you spend behind the wheel. There is no extra insurance to pay, no petrol costs, no road tax, no breakdown cover, no out-of-the-blue repair bills and no need for a resident's parking permit. And of course you don't ever have to fork out for a new car."

The scheme expansion is set to be the first step in a new transport initiative currently being developed by the council - Wandsworth Travel Choices. The overall aim is to increase the availability of cheaper, greener and faster travel options for people living and working in the borough. Outline objectives include:

  • Bring car clubs to within easy reach of every Wandsworth home
  • Extend the Barclay's London Cycle Hire Scheme to the borough - first bikes arriving in 2013
  • Introduce new and improved pedestrian signs and wayfinding, starting in Tooting
  • A new direct rail service from Clapham Junction to Docklands and Islington by 2012
  • Tackling overcrowding at rail and tube stations across the borough
  • Longer trains on all rush hour rail services
  • Deliver two new passenger piers on the Wandsworth riverfront
  • Promote faster, more frequent river bus services into central London
  • Install more electric vehicle charging points

Plans for the travel choice initiative will be developed over the coming weeks.

The 120 new on-street car club spaces will be managed by three different car club operators - Streetcar, City Car Club and Greenwheels.

Each operator offers cars on a pay-as-you-go basis which can be used for as little as half an hour at a time before being returned to the same spot. The cars can be booked on-line or over the phone.

As well as on-street car club bays there are around 70 car club vehicles available for people to use in Wandsworth which are parked on private property.

For more information and to find your nearest car club vehicle visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/carclub

September 15, 2011