Innovative Model Expands the Sharing Economy to Underserved Areas

Expanding car and bike share services beyond America's big cities and affluent demographics requires adaptability and old economy technologies. Buffalo CarShare is providing a model for success that even the big boys could learn from.

Angie Schmitt profiles Buffalo CarShare, a non-profit organization that is "working to open up car-share to new markets and new demographics." Launched four years ago with a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and NYSDOT, the program now has 500 members. 

"Buffalo CarShare is able to reach people with low incomes primarily because — in contrast to Zipcar — it is willing to serve customers face-to-face or through the mail, if need be, [co-founder and executive director Creighton Randall] says. The business operates out of a transit-accessible storefront near the city center — and many of its customers are walk-ins," explains Schmitt. "The organization is also willing to send out bills by mail, or accept money orders. Its 14 cars are sited at 12 different locations across the city."

Next on the organization's agenda is the establishment of a bike share program to serve the residents of what is one of the poorest cities in the country. "They hope the lower initial costs of this system can help make bike-share more accessible to people with a variety of income levels as well," says Schmitt.

Full Story: Expanding Car-Share Beyond America’s Biggest Cities

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