Okanagan Car Share Coop

How often do you use your car? Does it sit idle in the driveway more often than not? What if you could have a car to use only on the days you need one?

Those thoughts are the premise behind the Okanagan Car Share Coop. With car share programs taking off in larger cities around the world, starting one here in the Central Okanagan just made sense to Christian Brandt and in August 2013, he launched the OGO Car Share Coop.

“Initially we had two vehicles and 30 members but within the past year we’ve tripled to six vehicles and 150 members,” said Brandt.

Living in the Central Okanagan, where the weather is so conducive to cycling, more and more people are finding the expense of having a car sitting idle in their driveways to be a luxury they no longer want to pay for. Others are making the decision to retire the second car from two-car families an opt for an OGO membership to use the car share coop. Brandt is also seeing business organizations joining so their employees can use the cars to drive about town on work related errands instead of purchasing a company vehicle.

“Some people join if their car breaks down or if they’ve moved downtown and realize they just don’t need a car every day,” said Brandt, noting that if your car is sitting there idle 90% of the time, it’s costing a lot of money for nothing.

Thanks to a grant received from the Central Okanagan Foundation (COF), the Okanagan Car Share Co-op was able to offer OGO memberships to eight low-income individuals. “Transportation, or access to it, has been listed as one of the barriers faced by low-income people,” noted Brandt, and as such, the memberships provided by COF have helped people get to job interviews, move furniture and provided a much needed support system.

“We were also, through the COF grant, able to give memberships to two community organizations. For the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project, having access to a truck meant they could pick more fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste, and get it to organizations in need. It had such an amazing trickle down effect,” said Brandt, “it’s amazing how far one membership can spread something good through the community.”

The OGO cars are always parked in designated spots for pick it up and drop it off. There’s an app-like platform to make bookings on your phone or online. “Even if someone is out and about, if they’re standing next to a car and wondering if it’s available, they can check using their phone.”

Every member is given a key fob that can access the vehicles once they’re booking is completed.

Membership can come in the form of a casual member or a share holder in the coop. For those who only want to use it for a short time, they can pay a $25 month fee plus usage. For those who would like to join the coop, they can purchase a $500 share, which is redeemable upon their quitting the coop, then pay the usage fee for when they’re in the vehicle.

Usage fee includes gas and if you find the tank at ¼ or less, then simply use the gas card to fill it up. The driver is charged both a per hour fee as well as a per kilometer fee, which lowers after the first 50 kilometres.

The fleet of cars is ever expanding. Brandt said, “At the moment, we have two hybrids, three sedans and a pick up truck. We hope to add an electric vehicle soon along with a few more hybrids as we want to be as fuel efficient as possible.”

Best news of all for members is, OGO uses the same platform as MOTO in Vancouver and they have a roaming agreement with them as well as other car share programs in other Canadian cities.

Brandt himself does not own a car and is an avid cyclist. He was recently named as a City of Kelowna’s Champion of the Environment finalist in the Civic Awards.

To find out more about Okanagan Car Share Coop visit the website at: ogocarshare.ca