Alameda Considers Car2Go

Alameda looks at more transit with proposed car-sharing service Car2Go.


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Car2Go is a one-way, spontaneous car-share service that uses tiny Smart cars.

Photo courtesy of Car2Go

 

So, you’re stuck in Alameda and need to do a quick shopping trip in Berkeley, but you don’t have a car. Now, thanks to a new car service that will go before the city council in the months ahead, you may be able to hop into a Car2Go, paying 41 cents a minute for the trip, or $14.99 for an hour.

But say you want to go one way and not come back? You can just leave the Smart car anywhere and the next user will find it.

The Alameda Transportation Commission has approved the concept of such car-sharing services, but the city council must still vote on it. A date hasn’t been set yet for that review.

“We’re trying to create options for residents and businesses to get around,” said city transportation coordinator Gail Payne. “This is another great option. If you are trying to get around without having your own car, this is a great way to go.”

The service follows in the line of the more well-known Zipcar. But unlike Zipcars, which have designated spaces around cities, Car2Go lets users park their cars free and asks the cities to accept payment later from the company.

Alameda is already accommodating City CarShare, which has three off-street parking spaces, one across from the Alameda Theatre and the others in the Webster Street business area.

Car2Go is a new concept, which allows users to find cars all over town via the GPS systems in their smart phones. The company hopes to have 200 cars in the East Bay, 35 of which would be in Alameda.

“Research shows that car sharing lowers vehicle ownership, increases walking and bicycling and decreases gas emissions,” Payne wrote in a report.

Car2Go is already thriving in Washington, D.C.; San Diego; Seattle; Miami; Denver; Austin; and Portland, Ore., and hopes to make headway in the East Bay. Oakland has approved the company. Berkeley, San Francisco, and Emeryville are still studying it.

The tech blog Venture Beat is a big supporter, claiming that using a car and leaving it where you want is easier than having to make a reservation and return a car to a specified spot. With Car2Go, users can reserve the car with their cell phones as long as 30 minutes before they need it, or they can just walk up to a vacant one and drive away.

The costs include a $35 membership fee and $1 for each trip for insurance. The dollar is dropped after 90 trips.

The cars aren’t just economical; they are tiny. Two can fit in one parking space, which may help some cities approve them faster. The company is owned by the German car maker Daimler, which says it is now the largest car-sharing service in the world, with 1 million members. It has its greatest number of cars in Berlin, with 1,200, with Vancouver, Canada in second place with 750. Minneapolis is its largest U.S. outpost with 535 cars.

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