One-way carsharing may be emerging as a way to help curb traffic congestion and clear the air. According to a new study by the University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, car2go — the largest one-way carsharing service in North America — has succeeded in decreasing traffic and easing exhaust pollution, since fewer urban residents now use cars.

With one-way carsharing, drivers take the car to their destination and do not need to return it. Cars may be rented per minute or per day, and drivers pay only for the time they use the vehicle.

“It is important to document the social and environmental impacts of the free-floating round trip model,” said Susan Shaheen of UC Berkeley in an interview with Lady Freethinker. “This study analyzes five cities to document impacts on auto use, auto ownership, other modes, and vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to the study, one-way carsharing helps ease traffic and lessen pollution because it eliminates the need for people to have their own vehicle, thus lowering the number of cars on the road at any given time. Among the cities studied, car2go members sold between 1 and 3 vehicles for each car2go vehicle.

An estimated 5.5 to 12.7 metric tons of GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) have also been decreased for each car2go vehicle yearly, since carsharing reduces 10 to 29 million VMT (vehicle miles traveled) per year for each city.

Less traffic on the road also means more parking spaces — a plus in crowded cities where it’s often tough to find a spot.

Said Shaheen, “More studies should be conducted on carsharing to continue our understanding, particularly as these services evolve and grow into other land use environments and contexts.”

Given the costs and sustainability of the single-owner vehicle model, carsharing just might catch on among city-dwellers as a solution to their traffic woes.