Dear Members, Friends, Colleagues, and Supporters of BCS,
As many of you know, I have been proudly working for Buffalo CarShare (BCS) for the last eight years. BCS started as an idea discussed over beers, and became the life-changing social service that it is today, helping thousands of people in Buffalo, including myself. Because of CarShare, I felt fulfilled, challenged, and ambitious about the world of opportunity ahead of us. We were changing transportation in Buffalo, NYS, and the country.
In the past six years, Buffalo CarShare’s 19 vehicles have taken over 35,000 trips for over 1 million miles. Most of those trips were taken by members that cannot afford a personal vehicle, and therefore relied solely on CarShare to get to vital destinations. Carsharing quickly turned into a necessity for our members that otherwise had no option to get to the places they needed to go, and immediately started enhancing their quality of life.
“Buffalo CarShare gives me the freedom to do things I wouldn’t be able to do.” -Johnnie, member since 2009
Creating freedom? I can tell you, when we started we had no idea that the result of our service would be creating freedom. As we gathered more and more of our members ‘sharemonials’, we noticed this was a common theme and as a result, this is why we now exist. But all of that may be coming to an end due to NYS law that does not encourage unique transportation services to operate.
BCS hasn’t received one quote from an insurance carrier because our business is too unique and NYS law makes it too difficult to insure.
Why is this so important? Simple - because everyone deserves affordable and innovative transportation, not just the wealthy. Why are there no carsharing services in cities like Cleveland, Syracuse, and others like Buffalo? Easy - because for-profit companies do not see the financial benefit in serving these cities. Therefore, these services are not accessed by a majority of the population. Really think about this: access to Buffalo CarShare vehicles has spurred an estimate of $5 million dollars in collective savings for members, provided them access to job interviews and healthy foods, and facilitated a sense of freedom that did not exist before.
50% of our membership makes a household income of $25,000 or less. This shatters carsharing industry averages.
At the same time as this insurance crisis, Southern California cities are looking into the Buffalo model as a way to provide access for low-income communities that need it.
On one side of the country, BCS is being forced out of the state of New York, and on the other side, California is looking at the model as a way to help low-income communities get around. Funny, isn’t it? Well not really, not when that means people in Buffalo will be stranded with no way to get to their monthly doctor’s appointments or see their friends and family.
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