PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced a Department of Human Services (DHS) pilot program to install vehicle sharing and tracking technology in 25 City-owned vehicles used by DHS social workers, according to a release from the City.

"Connect by Hertz" provided the technology, which will link to an automated scheduling system that DHS social workers can use to reserve vehicles online. Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking, an on-board navigational system and an in-car, hands free telecommunication system will be available to provide drivers with additional safety and convenience features.

Drivers of these newly equipped vehicles will use an access card to facilitate entry, and car keys will be kept tethered in the vehicle. Drivers can reserve cars with as little as one hour of advance notice. The reserved vehicle's ignition will be disabled until the reserving driver's access card is presented at the appointed time on the scheduled vehicle. This technology will provide round-the-clock security, 7 days a week, with minimal administration. Several drivers can reserve the same vehicle on the same day with this automated reservation system, thus increasing the efficiency of vehicle usage.

"Since the City launched its vehicle sharing program in 2004, nearly 500 employees have embraced vehicle sharing as an efficient, effective, and sustainable transportation option," said Mayor Nutter. "This technology will increase the accountability and transparency of DHS work while increasing the productivity of employees who are travel to communities around the city."

According to City officials, the average annual operating cost of a City-owned passenger vehicle is approximately $5,000. If a review of the program shows increased operating efficiency, DHS may expand its use to serve the entire department's fleet of 107 vehicles.

Vehicle sharing enabled the City to reduce its fleet reduction by more than 400 cars since 2007. The City's vehicle sharing program aligns with Target 12 of the Greenworks Philadelphia plan, which aims to reduce vehicle miles driven in Philadelphia by 10 percent, according to the City.