New York City Launches Car-Sharing Program
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city is partnering with Zipcar to launch the city's first official car-sharing program. And the way they're going to pilot the program is pretty interesting: About 300 Department of Transportation employees will share a fleet of 25 vehicles for their daily business, then turn those cars over to the public for use on nights and weekends. 23 of the cars will be hybrids, most likely the Priuses that make up much of Zipcar's fleet, and two are trucks needed for more heavy-duty errands. They will all be housed in a garage in Lower Manhattan.
The cars can be reserved by the government employees and the public just like the rest of Zipcar's fleet, through an online reservation system. But even the reservation system is smart: A smaller number of cars will be available during peak traffic times, to encourage drivers to take their trips in less congested hours of the day.
Not having to purchase or maintain cars means tremendous savings for the city—the press release estimates that they'll save more than $500,000 over four years. In fact, New York's government has already worked to reduce the ratio of cars-to-employees, selling 750 cars from public agencies last year. The concept has worked well in other cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and if all goes well in New York, they hope to expand the program to other departments.