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Zipcar expands near UCLA and USC

September 14, 2009 |  2:18 pm

Driving in Los Angeles, especially around universities, just got a little bit easier.

The city, in partnership with Zipcar, is adding 12 hybrids and SmartWay-rated vehicles to an existing car-sharing program based around UCLA and USC.

Officials hope the expansion helps lower parking problems, congestion and emissions.

Students 18 and over and Los Angeles residents 21 and up can pay $8 an hour or $66 a day during the week, or $9 an hour/$72 a day on weekends, for use of a vehicle.

Members currently receive $50 worth of free driving in their first month.

Reservations can be made a The fee pays for gas, insurance, 180 free miles and 24-hour roadside assistance.

City officials hope to expand the program to the rest of the region.

Six cars each will be added to the 14 vehicles in the Zipcar fleet already at UCLA and the 16 at USC. The schools are among the largest of the 130 campuses that host Zipcar.

Two each will be located at the following locations near the USC campus:

  • West 32nd Street and University Avenue
  • West 29th Street and Orchard Avenue
  • West Adams Boulevard and Portland Street

Two more will be located at these locations near the UCLA campus:

  • Roebling and Levering avenues
  • Midvale and Rochester avenues
  • Strathmore Drive and Landfair Avenue

After making the announcement this morning in front of City Hall, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Zipcar President Mark Norman drove off together in a silvery Honda Insight with a UCLA window flag.

“This is an environmental home run,” said City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, chairman of the council's Transportation Committee. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Zipcar has 325,000 members sharing 6,500 vehicles in more than 50 cities throughout North America. The company, which launched in 1999 and merged with Flexcar in 2007, is trying out a new electric vehicle in London. There’s even a Zipcar application for the iPhone in the works that would allow users to locate, reserve and even unlock cars remotely.

Each Zipcar helps remove 15 to 20 personal vehicles from the road, according to executives. Customers claim to drive 40% fewer miles, increasing public transportation use by nearly 20% and saving more than $600 a month on transportation costs.

-- Tiffany Hsu