The University of Bristol and Streetcar have come together to overcome parking issues in the city and encourage students to consider more sustainable transport plans.

Streetcar, which offers access to a range of BMW and VW cars and vans on a pay-as-you-go basis, for anything from 30 minutes to months at a time, will add its service to the university halls of residence. The scheme already has 14 locations across the rest of the city.  The move is designed to complement the university’s Student Travel Plan, introduced to help reduce the volume of cars being brought into the city and provide suitable options for sustainable travel.  

The scheme is introducing a university special offer for students and staff that will include half-price membership (£29.50) and £10 driving credit. The first 100 students to join will qualify for free membership for the first year.

With a 90 per cent rise in student members over the past year, Streetcar has become an increasingly popular alternative for those who need occasional use of a vehicle. As well as offering convenience, flexibility and cost effectiveness, the concept has also received recognition for its strong environmental record, challenging people to reconsider the need for car ownership.

Brett Akker, co-founder of Streetcar, said: “With our strong environmental record, coupled with our convenient and flexible service, we’re giving students a very attractive and viable alternative to owning and maintaining a car at university. As such, we hope to make a significant contribution to the City Council and University’s plans to cut congestion and parking issues across the city.”

Amy Watts, Sustainability Manager (Transport) from the University of Bristol, said:  “The provision of the Student Car Club scheme gives our students the flexibility to travel, without needing to bring a car to the University, therefore helping to reduce congestion within Bristol. It’s great that this scheme can be provided in partnership with Streetcar. It benefits both our Students and the Bristol Residents in the area and demonstrates our commitment to fulfilling the objectives within our Student Travel Plan.”

Phillippa Bird, a 1st year PhD student said: “Streetcar is really simple to use and there’s no fuss.  I just book online, turn up to the car, swipe to get in and drop it off when I’m finished.  Ultimately, Streetcar will save me a lot of money when I compare it to the costs of owning my own car.”

In addition to Bristol, the scheme currently boasts over 1400 locations across nine other cities; London, Brighton, Cambridge, Southampton, Guildford, Maidstone, Oxford, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Members book a car online or over the phone, as little as 30 minutes ahead of time, and use smartcards to unlock the vehicle.  Thanks to Streetcar’s iPhone app, members are now able to locate, book and even open a car with their phone.

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1.       At the end of the journey the car is returned to a dedicated Streetcar parking space. Prices start from £4.95 per hour. Annual membership is £59.50.

2.       A low-emission VW Polo from the Streetcar service will be located outside Hiatt Baker Hall.


4.       According to the RAC’s annual research, the average cost of owning a car is £2,219 (over £42 per week). Additional costs such as finance, insurance and depreciation bring this figure to £5,523 (£106 per week). Car owners typically save over £2,000 per year after joining.

5.       In their 2009/2010 Annual Survey of Car Clubs Report Carplus, the national charity that promotes a rethink in car use, demonstrated that each car club vehicle on the road represents a reduction of up to 26 privately-owned cars that have either been sold or not purchased as a result of car club membership. Streetcar has already taken over 20,000 privately owned cars off the UK streetcar and is aiming to prevent the emission of around 50,000 tonnes of CO2 over the next two years. Research shows that Streetcars emit 33% less CO2 than the cars they replace:

6.      Free to download, Streetcar’s iPhone app enables existing and prospective members to view availability of the service via their phones. With a few additional taps, members can make a booking and unlock the car while standing right next to it.