Buffalo residents will soon have another option when it comes to saving money on fuel and transportation costs.
Members of the Green Options Buffalo organization are forming a separate non-profit called Buffalo Car Share. The idea is to give members access to a pool of vehicles which could be used for trips to the store, doctors' appointments, or evenings out on the town.
Creighton Randall is currently organizing the idea and hopes to roll it out in the Elmwood, Allentown, and Lower West Side neighborhoods later this year.
"Our demographic research, our census-based research, shows us that about four percent of residents in any given city start to pick up car sharing within the first couple of years," Randall said.
Car share programs are popular in bigger cities like Philadelphia, Austin, and Boston, but Randall does not believe Buffalo's smaller size should be a deterrent. He said it will offer residents a chance to go green while also saving some green.
"As gas prices increase, this is going to be an option for more people so we see a very bright future for this," Randall said.
The car share program would likely work by charging members an application fee for a DMV check. After members are approved, they would then pay an hourly rate (likely $4 to $7) each time they use a car. That fee would cover gas, insurance and maintenance costs. Most members would not have to maintain a separate insurance policy but would instead be covered by the car share's umbrella policy.
Buffalo Car Share is the latest in a variety of trends designed to help save the environment--and consumers' wallets. New York State recently started a program called NYS-Ride. It allows New York State employees to use a pre-tax portion of their paycheck to purchase transit cards and bus passes. New York State estimates it could save employees about 40% on their public transit costs.
New York's Office of Employee Relations said it's allocated $550,000 for the program, but how much of that is used will depend on employee participation.
At the University at Buffalo, Jennifer Bowen said several employees have already expressed interest in joining, even before the program is widely launched.
"For some people it's convenience, for some it's interest in helping the environment. Others, especially now, it's probably saving on cost and reducing some of their gas prices," Bowen said.
For more information on NYS-Ride you can click the link to the right of this story. If you're interested in volunteering with Buffalo Car Share, you can click here to send the organizer an e-mail.