Sharing economy solution to Sydney parking headaches

An Australian start-up is helping to make Sydney’s busiest suburbs more liveable by connecting commuters with unused parking spaces.

The start-up, supported by the University of NSW Founder’s Program, encourages locals in Sydney’s tightest parking hotspots to rent their driveways to the public, easing parking congestion by making use of empty space.

Since its inception in 2016, Share with Oscar has been partnering with residents in the city’s most packed suburbs to encourage them to rent their driveways out for a small return.

With parking fees from $2 – a rate substantially lower than that in some of Sydney’s peak suburbs like Bondi where street parking can be as high as $7.80 per hour – the start-up has already attracted more than 10,000 users in just two years.

The app, pioneered by Lisa Qi and Louise Chen, is aimed at encouraging more efficient use of street parking spaces, with two-thirds of Australians driving as part of their daily commute, according to Ms Qi.

“It means two-thirds of residential parking spaces sit empty for the most part of the day,” she says.

The idea came about after Ms Qi had trouble finding a park in Bondi and ultimately decided to pull into someone’s driveway and ask the resident if she could pay him $20 to park there for the day.

“This happened years back, before the likes of Uber and Airbnb, and I remember telling friends, ‘If you’re ever going to Bondi, you can park in this guy’s driveway and pay him,’ she said.

The resident – named Oscar – provided inspiration for the name of the app when it launched a few months later.

Within a matter of weeks, the app gained massive traction, with more than 100 local residents registering their parking spaces with the app.

Today the app boasts 1,500 registered parking spaces across some of Sydney’s busiest suburbs, and has thousands of users.

As well as helping commuters to find more convenient and affordable parking, Oscar is aims to support collaborative consumption.

“We want to share resources instead of buying more, manufacturing more and building more stuff,” Ms Qi says.

“There are actually ample resources we already have today which can be better shared and better utilised.

“We can come together as a community and have richer interactions by sharing whatever it is that we have with others.”

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