LADOT And BlueLA Partner For Low-Income Electric Car Share

Leaders cut the ribbon on L.A.'s new electric car-share program for disadvantaged communities. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Leaders cut the ribbon on L.A.'s new electric car-share program for disadvantaged communities. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Today the city of Los Angeles and BlueLA launched a new program to provide electric-powered car-sharing for low income communities. This morning’s kick-off celebration was held on 7th Street in front of the MacArthur Park apartments, a transit-oriented affordable housing development.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, an avowed electric car fan, declared that this project demonstrates the city’s commitment to putting “equity at the heart of sustainability efforts.” State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León praised the new program as an important part of state efforts to fight climate change. Without specifically naming U.S. President Donald Trump, de León passionately pledged that California is moving ahead combating climate change “with or without Washington,” that the state “believes in climate science and facts” and is committed to “defending family values” including keeping families together. Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, carrying his infant daughter in his arms, spoke on “democratizing technology” by bringing green projects into underserved neighborhoods.

L.A.’s new car-share program is operated by BlueLA, a subsidiary company whose parent operates all-electric car-share in Indianapolis, as well as in cities in Europe and Asia. L.A.’s new car-share operates point-to-point, similar to bike-share docking. At build-out, the program will include 100 all-electric vehicles located at 200 dedicated on-street spaces equipped with electric charging stations. The funding for the project includes a $1.7 million grant funded by cap-and-trade, plus about $400,000 funded by the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

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Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León praised California’s efforts to combat climate change, and to delink carbon from economic growth, citing 500,000 jobs in clean energy
Mayor Garcetti spoke of his first electric car in 1997 and the importance of electric car-share for mobility, health and the environment
Mayor Garcetti spoke of his first electric car in 1997 and the importance of electric car-share for mobility, health and the environment
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L.A.’s disadvantaged community car-share program is run by BlueLA. Though the cars were parked diagonally, the designated curb charging spaces show parallel parking (next to the 7th Street bike lane)
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Electric car charging stations along 7th Street
  • I’m curious about the pricing. Will low-income folks be able to afford to use these cars?

  • Max Power

    Nice to see LADOT funding more cars on the road to compete with transit

  • Joe Linton

    It’s likely to be significantly cheaper than car-ownership.

  • BH90008

    If it gets marginal car owners to get rid of their full-time cars and use transit/bikes/walking + this rental system, seems like it could be beneficial for the city. Guess we’ll see what the happens with the pilot program.

  • AB3

    I found this on the blueLA.com FAQ page:

    “What will it cost? Are there income-based discounts?
    Costs will vary, depending on which membership level is chosen, what discounts you qualify for, and how much time you use the car. Membership fees will range from $0 to $10 per month, and usage fees will range from $0.15 to $0.80 per minute of drive time.* Low-income users will be able to qualify for a 25-80% discount.

    *Minimum trip time charged = 20 minutes”

    So it seems that while there is a monthly fee, the minimum time usage for these vehicles is a great deal lower than Maven (no monthly fee, but in my experience between 1.5- and 2.5-hour minimums) and still lower than Zipcar (monthly or annual fee and half-hour minimum for one-way trips; one hour for round trips).

  • AB3

    As a person from a car-free household that uses carsharing as my primary vehicle, I think the biggest advantage BlueLA offers over its competitors (in addition to focusing on neighborhoods from a wider variety of economic levels) is that all trips are point to point (“one-way”), whereas Maven only offers round-trips in LA and Zipcar offers very limited one-way trips.

    I just hope the app is easy to use. And considering the requirement that all vehicles must be plugged in when they are being dropped off, I hope the act of plugging in the vehicle is what terminates the reservation, rather than having to engage in a two-step process using the app and the power station.

  • Josef Bray-Ali

    This is a strange location to site this sort of program, no?

    South Central Los Angeles or the Eastern San Fernando Valley would have been more appropriate – very low income populations with little to no access to nearby transit and horrible pedestrian and bicycle accessibility.

    MacArthur Park has a subway stop, bike lanes, and a significant parking shortage given the density of the area and the number of buildings with no on-site parking.

    If I were asked how I’d spend money in MacArthur Park it wouldn’t be on an electric car program but instead an increased emphasis on pedestrian transportation safety, on street cleaning and alleyway clean-up, and social, cultural, and job training programs to address the rapidly increasing amounts of violent and exploitative crime.

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