The funders view
Hour Car is an extremely useful and successful community initiative which brings a wide range of benefits. The scheme reduces people’s isolation, improves mobility and has extensive environmental benefits, reducing both mileage and pressure on a heavily congested road system. The set up is user-friendly and reliable and it was great to be able to assist in extending the scheme up the Calder Valley to Todmorden.
Where is the project
Based in the Calder Valley the car share scheme runs five cars from three different sites, Mytholmroyd, (behind St Michael’s Church), Hebden Bridge (Salem Community Centre) and Todmorden (in front of the Working Mens Club, next door to Lidl). The sites are convenient for the communities they serve. Cars are parked in central, off-street locations each with a blacksmith-forged, bespoke key safe, extremely secure, yet accessible to all car share members 24/7, one key fits all three safes.
The Project’s Story
Hour Car provides a low-cost alternative to personal car ownership, by reducing parking pressure and traffic congestion it addresses both local environmental concerns and global climate change worries. The cars can run on bio diesel and by providing a range of vehicles it enables members to use the most efficient vehicle for their needs.
“We run five cars, a range of models and these are some of the greenest cars in Britain” according to Kevin Hogan, the man behind the wheel at Hour Car, “when you consider that we have one car for every 10 members that is an efficient car to driver ratio. The figures make sense too, if you only need a car on an occasional basis then a car-share saves you money on tax and maintenance.”
All the evidence shows that when you pay for your car each time you use it you tend to make moreefficient choices, and in the long term that means less Carbon emissions.
In order to increase the area for potential membership, South Pennines Leader funded the purchase of a 5 door, 5 seater, Citroen C3 to be based in Todmorden. Kevin showed me around, “It is quite a spacious vehicle, with a huge boot and it’s proving to be very popular. It is lovely to drive with good visibility even in the back, so children enjoy the ride too. Expanding our scheme further up the valley has lead to both an increase in membership and an increase in use of vehicles at the further reaches of our range. We now have members in Cornholme who would never have considered joining when our nearest car was Hebden Bridge”
“All our cars are easy to use and hassle free”, booking, upkeep and insurance are managed by Kevin, “you can book online or by ‘phone and I keep the vehicles in good working order so members are sure of a safe vehicle and, oh yes we have emergency breakdown cover too”
Kevin said, “Our cars are used for all kinds of journeys regular shopping and work trips visits to friends and family and then there some more exciting trips further afield. One family often pack up and set off camping and another couple are really keen bird watchers, and you would be surprised at the number of times the vehicles are used for moving house”.
Members can rent the car for just an hour or two, a day or two and even on occasion, a week or so. Kevin told me, ”Initially we were not intending the vehicles to be away for whole weeks at a time, but members get used to one car and want to use it for their longer journeys. Also the large lumps of income generated by long rentals helps keep us in profit”.
“We are versatile too” says Kevin proudly, “one of our vehicles has a tow bar, there are baby seats and a bike rack, we even have a special pregnancy seat-belt” and that brings him to another story …. the Hour Car baby… “not actually born in the Hour car, but certainly Mum driven to hospital in labour, and later Mum and Baby brought home safe and sound.”
Hour Car is a member’s co-operative, managed by an elected committee, it is a not-for-profit business and reinvests all excess monies back into the scheme. Set-up in 2004 it is popular and well used and excellent good financial shape, they are currently considering their next vehicle purchase.
The Project’s Vital statistics
Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Todmorden and everywhere on a bus route in between. In the region of 11,000.
Currently 65 members
3 community businesses – Dot Communications, Calder Future, Community North West
3 private businesses
A handful of sole traders – dry stone waller and vintage clothes trader.
Murt’s garage mechanics
One part-time manager – Kevin Hogan
This is limited by people being prepared to arrange transport from outlying areas into town to actually get to the Hour Car sites, however some members use the Hour Car as a second vehicle and extension of the scheme to Todmorden has extended the area of support.
8 villages supported : Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Old Town, Heptonstall, Cornholme, Sandbeds, Cragg Vale
Other sources of funding
The Ground Floor Project
Todmorden Town Council
SEEd – Sustainability and Environmental Education
The organisation is good at generating publicity and has an ongoing strategy to attract new members. The scheme has cash reserves, a good membership base and they are currently looking at new car purchases.
Project Outputs and Outcomes
Car clubs and car sharing can play a vital role in reducing society’s dependence on the car by giving members access to a car for essential journeys without the need to own one. Research has shown that one car share vehicle replaces between four and five privately owned vehicles, and members make significant changes to their travel behaviour. For example, in Berlin, the members of one scheme discovered that:
- Members reduced miles driven by 53%
- Walking and cycling increased by 28%
- There was a 35% increase in public transport use
This, in turn, leads to the following benefits:
- Reduced congestion / parking problems
- Reduced local pollution
- Improved road safety
- Increased viability of low-car housing
Key successes of Hour Car:
- The booking system – it is an adapted hotel room booking package and is straightforward and has proved popular with members. This is now being used by other car share schemes.
- The decision to purchase a range of vehicles was a good one, the Citroen is proving to be the most popular model.
Lessons learnt at Hour Car:
- Of 8 countrywide schemes set up in 2004 only 3 are remaining. Their failure seems to have been related to overcomplicated booking systems and their purchase of inappropriate vehicles.