Government Fleet Top News

Berkeley to Purchase Hybrids to Replace Older Cars

July 28, 2004

BERKELEY, CA — A plan to add a handful of City CarShare communal hybrid cars to the city of Berkeley, Calif., fleet for part-time use is gaining traction, according to the Tri-Valley Newspaper on July 16. City CarShare is the three-year-old nonprofit program, featuring neon-green Volkswagen Beetles, to get people out of their cars by offering communal cars by the hour. If the City Council gives the proposal a green light next week, the city will spend up to $413,000 over the next three years, a savings of roughly $400,000, to replace 15 old, gas-guzzling fleet cars with up to six City CarShare hybrids. Employees on city business — planners, building inspectors, code inspectors — will check out the cars through a computerized reservation system on work days. On weeknights and on weekends the cars will be parked at City Hall and behind the police station for use by CarShare members. More communal cars, theoretically means more parking spaces, fewer emissions and less gas use, City CarShare and Berkeley officials said. Earlier this year a University of California, Berkeley study found that 30 percent of San Franciscans who enrolled later sold one or more of their cars. Overall car use among members fell 47 percent, reducing 13,000 miles of car travel, 720 gallons of gas consumption and 10 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every day, the study showed.While other American cities use communal cars for city business, they don't allow their residents to use them in the off hours, officials said. CarShare spokesman Eliot Dobris said Berkeley will be the first city in the country to offer up communal city fleet cars to other drivers in the off hours. "It's really a perfect fit because most of our members are individuals who use the cars on evenings and weekends," Dobris said. The city projects it will save up to $250,000 on such things as replacement cars, gas and maintenance over three years, and roughly $150,000 over three years on insurance, lost employee work time reserving cars and fleet management. But Berkeley is also buying into the program for environmental reasons, officials said. "One of the benefits is we will be getting rid of older vehicles and replacing them with newer ones so we will be getting an air-quality benefit and spending less money on fuel," said city transportation planner Matt Nichols. City employees will also save time. They won't have to chase down car keys (City CarShare vehicles have the keys inside), remind colleagues to return a fleet car by a deadline or track down a car's parking space.

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