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Transport / Car club trial may allow public to hire vehicles on hourly basis

The two-year scheme will primarily be focused on council, NHS and third sector staff – but there may be potential for members of the public to join too

A TWO year “car club” trial is set to take place across Shetland where public and third sector staff will be able to access shared vehicles on a hourly basis.

A meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) environment and transport committee heard on Monday that members of the public may potentially be able to hire vehicles too.

The scheme would allow people to gain access to cars on a per-hour basis.

The project was given a warm welcome by councillors at Monday’s meeting.

Shetland South Green councillor Alex Armitage urged for the public to be included, saying that it would support people who need vehicle access but struggle financially.

SIC environment and estate operations manager Carl Symons said the trial would include eight to ten vehicles.

“Locations are still to be determined, but this is basically to cover rural areas where mobility and car travel is a problem,” he said.

Symons highlighted how workers for organisations like the SIC and NHS Shetland are currently unable to share vehicles, but the club would get around this.

The trial would be run in partnership with the Enterprise Car Club. Enterprise runs ‘clubs’ across the UK, and the furthest north is at the Scrabster ferry terminal.

Symons said the hope is to roll it out the trial in Shetland in the “near future”.

He added that the “future direction of travel hopefully would be an electric fleet, but we can’t guarantee that at the moment” because of infrastructure needs.

At the end of the trial the hope is to collate the metric data to decide on a possible wider roll-out.

A report to councillors said: “The outcomes we seek should clarify if more efficient operations can result in a reduction in numbers of vehicles required by the SIC and partners, which in turn reduces the carbon footprint as set out in the council’s net zero routemap.

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“We also aim to evaluate, via the trial, whether the service can facilitate making better, more efficient use of fleet vehicles and reducing or eliminating the silos of vehicles with proprietary booking systems, while supporting the low car lifestyle and ‘mobility as a service’ ideal by making car club vehicles available to Shetland residents when not required for SIC services.”

Committee chair Moraig Lyall said it was a “positive move forward”, while council leader and Shetland North member Emma Macdonald also welcomed the trial – saying people for example in a village like Brae could stand to benefit.

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