Eighteen carsharing organizations around the world have announced formation of an association that sets the ethical, social and environmental bar for the carsharing industry. The driving principles of the new CarSharing Association (CSA) focus on environmental and social impact and responsibility, education, research and ethical practices (www.carsharing.org).

The goals of carsharing organizations in the CSA include reducing the number of cars on the road, relieving congestion, and increasing transportation options. Unlike “cars on demand” services, member carsharing organizations are “transit-oriented” services, encouraging carsharing as part of a sustainable transportation network of choices that includes walking, cycling, and transit.

“We view our carsharing programs as an important public service, providing mobility that fixed-route transit and active transportation can't,” said Jennifer Dotson, Executive Director of Upstate New York's Ithaca Carshare, at 13 vehicles and 1000 members one of the smallest organizations in the new CarSharing Association. “Ithaca Carshare and other members of the Association are an important part of the transit community; enhancing mobility options and sustainable communities at the same time.”

The Association’s member organizations span from Sydney to Halifax to Minneapolis to Sao Paolo and represent approximately 100,000 members across the globe. CSA members include innovators of carsharing in North America, the oldest of which has been operating since 1994. Unlike traditional car rental, carsharers use vehicles by the hour at a cost that includes gas, insurance, parking and maintenance. The CSA encourages closer integration of shared services among member organizations, including roaming memberships, support of other sustainable transportation, and facilitation of research.

“Carsharing is a reliable and flexible alternative to car ownership,” states the CSA’s founding document, “Its mission, vision and values lead to actions aimed at decreasing individual car ownership, reducing vehicle distance traveled, improving urban land use and development, and providing affordable access to vehicles for all constituencies – including those less able to afford car ownership.”

CSA members have created and agree to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for carsharing. Key themes include upholding the association’s social and environmental commitment, establishing and maintaining standards for the industry, quality of service to members and stakeholders, and vital public education and research.