City Makes Space for Zipcars on Public Streets

3_9_09_zip.jpgZipcar parked at Gramercy Park in NYC in 2006. Photo: NannyinNY/Flickr

For car-sharing to every truly work, the cars used in the program need to be easily accessible to the members who have access to rent them.  To that end, the City Council has cleared out 10 parking spaces near USC and UCLA to pilot the return of Zipcars to the streets of Los Angeles.

Longtime Streetsblog readers will remember that Los Angeles used to be served by Flexcar, the only national competition that Zipcar faced.  But, after the two car-share giants merged just over a year ago instead of more service, Zipcar shrank local car sharing back inside the college campuses of USC and UCLA leaving many subscribers high and dry.  Now, to their credit, the city is working with Zipcar to try and slowly bring the service back.  If the service in and around the two college campuses is successful, the Council promises an expanded program for Hollywood, the Downtown and Venice.

While the Council deserves credit for promoting alternative transportation at the expense of public parking, this is just a baby step to getting a city-wide car sharing program.  If the city wants to live up to its rhetoric on the importance of car sharing, it could always embrace the Philadelphia model, where they cut their take-home program for city employees and use the money to embrace in a car-sharing program that could be used for both city employees and residents.

For a full copy of the press from Councilman Bill Rosendahl release announcing the program, read on after the jump.

CITY COUNCIL, ZIPCAR PARTNER ON CAR SHARE PROGRAM

Pilot Program Expected to Relieve Traffic and Help the Environment

LOS ANGELES – The
Los Angeles City Council gave the “green-light” today on a car share
pilot program ready to launch this summer in neighborhoods near Los
Angeles’ two largest universities.

Zipcar, the
world’s leading car sharing company, will partner with the City to
provide access to vehicles by the hour or the day in highly populated
areas near UCLA and USC. The Department of Transportation
has identified 10 parking spots in each of the neighborhoods for the
exclusive use of the car sharing vehicles.

“We must
constantly seek out innovative ways to empower our residents with more
transportation choices,” said Councilmember Bill Rosendahl,
who championed the program through the Council’s Transportation
Committee. “Car sharing has been proven to reduce traffic congestion
and vehicle emissions, increase transit ridership, and save users money
compared to owning and operating private vehicles.”

The program is designed
to give residents an alternative to owning their own cars and the
related costs of parking, insurance, depreciation, fuel, and
maintenance, which add up to $8,000 per year for the average driver. For
car sharing users, all of these costs are wrapped up in a flat hourly
rate starting at $8 per hour, and users only pay for the time that they
are driving around.

"Car sharing programs provide
Los Angeles residents with another real alternative to owning a car and
will help reduce traffic and air pollution. It’s a great
opportunity for people who live in areas where shops, work, school, and
home are within walking distance and a car isn’t always needed," said
Council President Eric Garcetti.

The City will
allow Zipcar to use the on street parking spaces free of charge for the
one year pilot program to help demonstrate the potential of car sharing
in Los Angeles. Spaces without parking meters were selected to avoid any loss of revenue to the City. The
City selected neighborhoods near UCLA and USC to build on the
successful partnerships that those universities have already developed
with Zipcar.

Councilmember Bernard Parks is proud to bring this program to his constituents in University Park: "It is a great pilot program because the area is parking poor,” said Parks. “Car sharing will offer more flexibility to the students and residents in and around USC."

Prospective car sharing users sign up online at www.zipcar.com
to enroll in the program and receive a free membership card. Members
can make reservations online or on the phone from 10 minutes to a year
in advance. To begin the reservation, the user waves the membership card over a sensor inside the windshield to unlock the vehicle. The ignition keys are stored in the glove box. At
the end of a trip, the user returns the car to the home space, waves
the membership card over the sensor, and the trip is complete.

"The
City’s partnership with Zipcar is an innovative way to reduce our
carbon footprint as well as the number of cars on the road, especially
in the congested areas around UCLA. Zipcars will help
reduce emissions, trips to the pump, and traffic congestion," said
Councilmember Jack Weiss whose district includes UCLA.

Zipcar
members report an average monthly savings of over $500 compared to car
ownership. Car share programs are good for the planet and the wallet.
National studies have shown that a car share vehicle removes 15
privately owned vehicles from the roads, greatly reducing each driver’s
impact on the environment. Many of the car share vehicles in this pilot
program will be hybrids.

Upon the successful completion
of the pilot program, the City will consider expanding car sharing to
other suitable areas including Venice, Hollywood, Downtown and other
neighborhoods.

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