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					From the San Francisco Chronicle


5 hybrids on the road to replacing city-owned cars
- Patrick Hoge, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, July 16, 2004

Berkeley may soon get rid of some of its city-owned cars and start sharing rentals with
city residents in an innovative effort to cut costs and help the environment.

The proposed program, which the City Council will consider on Tuesday, would replace
15 city cars with five Toyota Prius hybrids leased from City CarShare, a nonprofit San
Francisco group that rents cars at low hourly rates to members in the Bay Area. City
officials anticipate getting the cars in September.

"The city will be saving thousands of dollars each year and reducing the environmental
impact of employees driving while conducting city business,'' Berkeley Mayor Tom
Bates said Thursday.

CarShare members would be able to rent the city-owned cars during nights and
weekends, while only city employees would be able to use the vehicles from 8 a.m. to 6
p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Founded in 2001, City CarShare charges $4 an hour between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., and $2
an hour after that, plus $0.44 a mile. The fees cover insurance, maintenance and fuel
costs. The group has 3,000 members and 80 vehicles in 40 locations around the Bay
Area, including five spots in Berkeley.

The City Council is expected to decide whether to enter into a contract with City
CarShare for as much as $413,000 over three years. The deal allows the city to retire as
many as 15 more vehicles in return for access to another five hybrid cars down the line,
said Matt Nichols, a principal transportation planner for the city.

City officials expect the program to generate modest savings, with more significant
savings down the road because the city won't have to buy replacements for the cars it
retires, according to a staff report.

The program would also free up parking space in the city's Center Street Garage and
allow the city to collect more parking revenue. City-owned cars often sit idle in the
garage because they are not shared among city departments, the report states.

The idea of having a city fleet available to citizens in off-hours has apparently not been
used anywhere else, said Larry Magid, City CarShare's executive director. The tactic will
allow the city to rent the vehicles at a lower price, he said.
"The program that City CarShare is establishing with the city of Berkeley is a model for
cities around the Bay Area and the country," Magid said.

Most CarShare members are individuals who use vehicles in the evenings and on
weekends, so "it's an ideal match for us,'' he said.

Several San Francisco city agencies already use City CarShare to cut fleet maintenance
costs, but the city does not lease cars that are also used by the public. In April, the city of
Philadelphia began a similar program that retired 75 city-owned vehicles.

North Oakland resident Karen Hester, for example, does not own a car and she
periodically uses CarShare vehicles in Berkeley while there doing her event promotion
work. She also uses CarShare vehicles located in Rockridge.

"Car sharing is such a brilliant idea, I just don't get why more people aren't using it.''

E-mail Patrick Hoge at

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