CarShareHFX’s journey from new business to merger with national car share organization
Posted on June 25, 2021 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
Pam Cooley and Peter Zimmer launched CarShareHFX in 2008. What started as an independent operation in Halifax, N.S. has since become part of the largest car share company in Canada.
The idea behind car sharing is to drive less. An estimated 15 personal cars are replaced by each car share vehicle on the road.
Pam Cooley said this was the goal behind the business: “(to) provide people with an alternative so people didn’t have to use personally-owned cars” and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
How it Works
Users pay an annual membership fee to gain 24/7 self-service access to a diverse fleet of vehicles. Vehicles can be booked ahead at an hourly or daily rate, or by the minute with spontaneous “Flexcars”. All fees include gas and insurance.
The system is designed to encourage people to only use a car when needed and to take advantage of eco-friendly transit instead (walking, biking, etc.).
Early Signs of Growth
CarShareHFX started with nine vehicles from Halifax to Dartmouth. At the time, car sharing was a new concept in Atlantic Canada, which was a challenge.
But the idea caught on. Two years after launch, CarShareHFX received best new company of the year at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. In 2011, they partnered with Communauto, the largest car-sharing organization in Canada and the oldest in North America. Pam Cooley noted Communauto’s ethical practices, vision and industry expertise were part of that decision. Boosted by their combined resources, CarShareHFX hoped to expand.
Another change happened in 2014 when co-founder and General Manager Peter Zimmer announced his retirement. By then, CarShareHFX had grown to 25 cars, serving almost 1,000 members.
CarShareHFX changed its name to CarShare Atlantic in 2016. This came with new branding, a new website and growth.
A year later, One-Way FLEX was introduced, giving members more instantaneous access to CarShare vehicles in their area.
In 2019, Pam Cooley sold her shares to Communauto and stepped down as CEO, and Tim Callanan filled her shoes. Pam’s last project had been a vision of hers since starting CarShare – making service more accessible for wheelchair users. A collaboration with the province of Nova Scotia, the Central Library and Embracor Medical resulted in a fully accessible van placed at the Central Library. Pam said this was one of her most memorable successes.
She also spoke of the significance of CarShare’s growth: “I view business as a vehicle (pun intended) for increasing quality of life for people that work for you.”
As of 2020, the business formerly known as CarShareHFX officially became Communauto Atlantic. Tim Callanan says: “This long-time partnership gave us the resources of a national car share company, and has allowed us to maintain local roots and grow in our own community.”
Today, Communauto Atlantic’s fleet has grown to 120 vehicles and they hope to continue growing to better serve Halifax and Dartmouth. •
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