I read with interest that Rosie Winterton, transport minister and MP for Doncaster, recently launched car sharing research with the following piece of PR puff: "Car sharing helps reduce congestion, tackle pollution and carbon emissions and importantly, cut the costs of travelling. While this research shows that informal car sharing is popular, it highlights that formal schemes run by employers are still in a small minority.
"I encourage employers to consider whether introducing a car-sharing scheme for their organisation could help them reduce their carbon footprint and provide quicker, more convenient journeys for staff."
Well, I’m part of a car-sharing scheme; I take my daughter to school most mornings, and I must say it works extremely well. She is now very familiar with David Bowie when he was good (that’s 1971-’74, incidentally), Bad Company and Doctor Feelgood, so these journeys are also proving highly educational.
However, the return leg is just me and the fresh fruit I bought from the grocers. And presumably that’s really bad, according to Rosie. The thing is, car sharing is a bad idea unless you really like the person you are sharing space with. I read with interest that the research reveals that just one per cent of respondents said they were a member of a formal lift-sharing sc heme run by their employer or other organisation. That’s because those schemes do not work.
Thirty years ago, my sister used to pick up a work colleague in her Triumph Dolomite. That colleague was just a bit overweight, which obviously caused undue wear on the nearside tyres and suspension (not to mention the brown vinyl seating). And her time-keeping was rubbish, so although my sis was parked outside her flat at 8am, the work colleague’s lardy frame would not emerge until 10 or 15 minutes later. And that was on a good day.
In the end, I told my sis to lay down the law: 8.00am or else. And that particular car-share scheme came to its natural conclusion soon after.
That’s the whole problem; it relies on the sharers to be on time, to smell nice, to not pick their noses, fidget or interfere with the in-car entertainment. Oh, and they should also chip in with a contribution to the massive fuel bill. Get that sorted and I’m in. Or one job away from becoming a minicab driver.