Electric car-sharing programs for impoverished neighborhoods

For Americans who aren’t rich, simply traveling to work, school, or the grocery store can be an expensive, time-consuming hassle. Owning and driving a car typically costs $9,000 per year, putting a personal vehicle out of reach for many lower-income Americans. Yet that mode of transport is what people must often resort to if they’re among the nearly half of Americans who don’t have access to public transportation. Those who live somewhat near a mass transit station or bus route may also still need to rely on a car if the distance is too far or unsafe to walk. Forming an unavoidable backdrop to these issues is our climate, which suffers when people drive gasoline-powered cars instead of taking public transportation.

electric-car-share-programThe City of Los Angeles is experimenting with a new pilot project that’s designed to tackle all these dilemmas simultaneously. Announced last year, the program will introduce a car-sharing program with 100 hybrid and electric cars, plus 100 charging stations, in the city’s impoverished neighborhoods. Car ownership loans and assistance programs aren’t new, but the innovative combination of multiple goals—lowering carbon pollution and improving people’s mobility—makes California’s pilot effort especially promising. In fact, it’s funded by the emissions cap-and-trade program that the state established in 2006.

For more information, see “LA’s New Car Share Program Offers Electric Vehicles to Low-Income Drivers,” Yes! Magazine (2016) and also “Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Electric Vehicles,” the U.S. Department of Energy (2012).