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Car Sharing Should Expand to Hollywood, Recommends City Report

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On-campus and on-street car sharing around USC


On-campus and on-street car sharing around USC
Imagine this. You live in the Valley, work in Hollywood and you faithfully take the Metro Red Line subway every day to work. Why even bother with traffic? Or maybe, why even own car? Sometimes, however, you just need one in the middle of the day, say for a dentist's appointment across town. Thankfully, there is a car sharing program in Hollywood, so you go online, reserve a car parked in a special spot on the street and head out for a couple hours. That scenario could soon happen if the Los Angeles City Council approves a recommendation from the city's transportation staff. In a report (.pdf) to be discussed at a committee meeting this week, staff recommend extending a small on-street car sharing program only found around UCLA and USC.

For nearly a year, Zipcar and the city have tested out a project that has taken 18 on-street parking spaces near the two campuses and converted them into dedicated car sharing spaces (there is also a program that has vehicles parked in campus spaces). Students, faculty, office workers and residents then can go online, reserve the car for a couple hours (or maybe the whole day). Rates start at $8 per hour on weekdays and $9 on weekends. Gas, insurance and the first 180 miles are included in the price.

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On-campus and on-street car sharing around UCLA
So far, the success of the program has gone beyond expectations, which has left the city staff and Zipcar with the desire to try something new: explore the viability of car sharing in a non-university area. And that neighborhood should be Hollywood near Metro stops, they say.The outcome could be far from predictable. The current near-campus program see 91% of its usage from students or faculty. But that could just be about location. "Perhaps most illustrative of the success of the neighborhood targeting approach is this statistic: significant 45% of people report living or working less than a block from a Zipcar location; 36.5% report being within one to three blocks," a report from the company stated, meaning if the Hollywood community embraces the program,

Another challenge for the program are drivers of non-car sharing vehicles parking in dedicate Zipcar spaces. Although car sharing spaces are marked to be restricted to regular vehicles, hundreds of vehicles have been towed and ticketed. In the first seven months of 2010, 384 tickets were written and 175 vehicles were towed.

Another issue is balancing on-street car sharing spaces and regular parking spots in congested areas.

City staff are also careful to point out that car sharing is not the one and only solution to the city's transportation demand, but one tool to enhance it. They see locating car sharing programs near rail and transit stations as an asset, encouraging "the use of transit by those whose trip destinations are not conveniently located within the reach of the transit system."

In 2007, Zipcar merged with its competitor Flexcar, which had around 50 cars in Los Angeles. The L.A. fleet was then reduced to an only on-campus program in 2007.

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Previously: Car Sharing Program A Success, but Plans to Expand are Tentative (January, 2010)