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10th anniversary of Hour Car Club

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ten years ago a radical alternative to owning cars was developed in Hebden Bridge. Ten years on and the car club, Hour Car, is going from strength to strength with 65 members and 5 cars, including an electric vehicle.

"The idea behind a Car Club is simple," says Kevin Hogan, who has managed Hour Car throughout the last ten years. "Instead of owning a car, people join a Car Club and have access to a range of vehicles via a 24 hour online booking system. They book anything from half an hour to two weeks and pay according to how much time they use. Paying by usage gives a clear incentive to cut down on car usage and, on average, there is at least a 40% reduction per member. The scheme works particularly well for those who do not use their cars every day, some of whom are a lot better off financially as a result, saving over a thousand pounds a year. Others, who would struggle to afford a car, have access to one when they need one."

There have been many developments in Hour Car in the last ten years. From 2 cars based in Hebden Bridge it has developed to 5 cars currently. It has expanded throughout the Upper Valley and now has car pick-up points in Todmorden and Mytholmroyd. It has become a members' co-operative so that the members decide how it operates. Of the ten rural car clubs which started under the same initiative as Hour Car, only three still survive and all of these have used the Hour Car procedures and booking system.

Hour Car now also operates an electric car, and is one of the first car clubs in the country to do so. They opted for the Chevrolet Volt, because there are no worries about running out of electricity as it has a back-up petrol generator.

"It is a beautiful and very modern car," said Kevin Hogan, "One child described it as the coolest car she had ever been in - but we charge exactly the same for it because we want it to be used as much as possible.."

"Above all we are proud of that so many people in the area have used the Scheme and found it useful. Over the years more than 200 have used the Scheme and I want to thank every one of those: They have made Hour Car into the success it is and made for a huge reduction in our carbon output. I calculate that we must have saved around 45 tonnes of Carbon over the years, a small but significant contribution to slowing down Climate Change, the biggest threat to the world in the 21st century."

Members were also keen to point out the benefits of the Scheme.

"Hour Car is a wonderful resource, still miraculously flourishing in Hebden Bridge with a decade of efficiency now under its bonnet," said B Dahl. "I would see it as ecologically unsound for me to own a car, but I do periodically have to get a heavy load, such as sacks of garden compost, up a steep hill a mile out of town. For this, Hour Car is the ideal solution."

Dr Chris Gifford said, "I wanted to give up my car because I had more or less stopped using it for work and the insurance and repairs were getting more and more expensive. However, this only became a real possibility once I discovered Hour Car. It's convenient and really well run!"

See the Hour Car website