KELSO, WA – Cowlitz County, Wash., is using its integrated Web-based vehicle reservation system as part of a new car sharing program (similar to ZipCar, for example the program being used in Chicago) that would allow employees to reserve vehicles online for county business, according to The Daily News Online. The county hopes to use the system, which it implemented late last year according to county documents, to use motor pool vehicles more efficiently, reduce the total number of vehicles needed, and cut the costs associated with running those vehicles. The county plans to expand the system over time.

The county’s Building and Planning Department and Assessor’s Office are using the system, which cost close to $35,000 according to county documents, with 15 vehicles and four at-large cars used by other departments out of a total of 40 vehicles.

The system allows 24-hour vehicle reservations for employees via an online portal site. Employees can make reservations by specific vehicle or by vehicle class.  Keys for the vehicles are stored in locked dispenser box that employees can access via a reservation code. Billing is automated, based on reservation and trip data and the master data and tariff model for specific users.

To meet the county’s reporting requirements, the system automatically collects trip data, and provides vehicle security, via an onboard computer. This system automatically transfers trip data at the key caddy point so no data transfer by employees is required. It also provides a range of reports, such as vehicle usage and others for analysis of the fleet. This system allows the county to assign vehicles based on mileage and usage, which improves vehicle utilization.