by Marzia De Giuli, Song Jian

MILAN, Italy, June 8 (Xinhua) -- With around 40 percent of the national car sharing services, Italy's business capital Milan is regarded as a positive example of a city which has made of traffic policies a new driver for development.

According to figures of the Milan municipality, there are some 2,300 shared vehicles in Milan belonging to five public and private operators, of which one provides totally electric cars. Registered users are around 300,000 overall for an estimated 8,000 rentals ever day on average.

Andrea Pizza, a 22-year economics student at Bocconi University in Milan, is among those citizens who have opted for sharing rather than owning a car. "The large number of cars in Milan -- more than 500 every 1,000 residents, according to figures of the Automobile Club of Italy (ACI) -- causes traffic congestion, and I find car sharing a convenient and effective solution," he said.

A survey conducted by car sharing operators in Milan has showed that 12 percent of users have already decided to abandon their first or second own cars, while 8 percent are considering doing it. According to ACI figures, the number of car registrations has significantly dropped by some 50,000 since 2008, when the northern city first introduced a pollution charge and later, in 2012, a congestion charge.

"It is the easiest way for me to go to university, do shopping or just come back home after a night out with friends," Pizza went on saying, pointing at the "Share'NGO" ZD electric microcar behind him, which is produced by China's Geely group and has all the typical features of a citycar: two seats, a 300 liters car boot, power brakes, power steering, rear parking sensor, air-conditioning and adjustable seats.

"It looks like a tiny car, but in fact it is big enough. I share my apartment with five friends of mine and we do the shopping for the whole of us with this car," Pizza said. "I think Milan is a best practice as regards car sharing services, and I feel to be a model and modern citizen when I use them. Actually anybody could be," he added.

Among the most recent traffic control initiatives, the Milan municipality has installed in collaboration with A2A, Italy's largest multi-utility company, 12 fast charging points for both shared and private electric vehicles, which add to the A2A recharging infrastructure counting around 150 charging points in Milan.

A new scooter sharing service has also been available since last summer to tackle two-wheeled congestion.

The use of car sharing is simple and convenient, another citizen who has given up his own car, 38-year-old consultant Marco Ceragioli said.

Ceragioli often needs to move from one place to another in Milan. "I used to own a car, but then I realized that it was easier and also more economically convenient for me to use the car2go services," he said. "In this way, I neither need to look for a parking lot nor pay for it, and everything goes smoother," he added.

Just like other car sharing services, customers use a smartphone app to find available vehicles, drive to their destination, and park in any legal city parking spot, Ceragioli said. Fuel, insurance, and parking costs are included. "It costs around 0.30 euros (0.34 U.S. dollars) per minute. If I use it for the entire day, it costs 50 euros (57 U.S. dollars), but it never happens," he said.

The ideal, Ceragioli went on saying, is to use car sharing combined with other transports tools, such as bike sharing -- Milan counts 4,650 bicycles and around 50,000 users -- or the subway system -- the city metro system has a length of around 100 km and 110 stations.

"All of these behaviors help reduce traffic, and I am happy to see that the same thing is starting to happen also in other Italian cities such as capital Rome, where I can use car2go with the same subscription," he noted.

Thanks to its initiatives, Milan has won numerous awards in recent years, including a price awarded in 2014 by the International Transport Forum at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which described Milan as "a reference point for those cities aiming to implement solutions for sustainable mobility and traffic regulation policies." Enditem

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