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 2009Creating 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 us too difficult to insure.
Why is this so important? Simple - because everyone deserves affordable and innovative transportation, not just the wealthy. Why is 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.
We have identified some options to stay in business which include raising several million dollars to become self-insured, or become bought out or absorbed. There is one option that will allow us to get insured within the next month or so.
There isn’t much time left and we have to call upon our supporters to help us get this bill passed. The passing of bills A8027 and S4444B will open the door for a competitive insurance market for carsharing in NYS and also increase alternative transportation options in the state. Since we have no stopgap plans as of yet, we will cease operating on June 15 until we can obtain a suitable insurance policy. Again, this will only happen if the bill passes at the end of session on June 17.
This CarSharing bill will save Buffalo CarShare. We need to advocate for this bill to be passed. Click this link to our latest newsletter: http://bit.ly/1cJOClW, which will allow you to send an e-mail to legislators and sign our petition.
Thank you for your support over the years. During this crisis we’ve asked members to send us their testimonials to use for conveying to the state and potential insurers how large our impact is on people’s lives. I have read each and every one of them, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much all of you have changed MY life. So here is my testimonial:
"Buffalo CarShare has allowed me to live a better life without the burden of owning a car.... I bought a house with all that savings. I'm shocked and disgusted that the state is allowing this to happen to a non-profit dedicated to helping thousands of people live better lives. I couldn't care less about my job, I just care that our members get served, which won't happen if NYS doesn't recognize this vital service now."Mike Galligano