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Zipcar expands around UCLA and USC

September 14, 2009 |  2:32 pm

Zipcar: the leaner, greener solution to the Los Angeles traffic tarantula?

City officials seem to think so. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council members have paired with the Massachusetts company to expand an existing car-sharing program based around UCLA and USC.

Adding 12 hybrids and SmartWay-rated vehicles to the 14 Zipcars already at UCLA and the 16 at USC could limit traffic congestion, cut back on exhaust fumes and emissions, and keep drivers from circling aimlessly while looking for parking spots.

The schools are among the five largest of the 130 campuses that host Zipcar around the country.

The company claims that each Zipcar helps remove between 15 and 20 personally owned vehicles from the road. Customers claim to drive 40% fewer miles, increasing public transportation use by nearly 20% and saving more than $600 per month on transportation costs.

Two vehicles each will be located at the following locations:
•    32nd Street and University Avenue
•    W. 29th Street and Orchard Avenue
•    W. Adams and Portland Street
•    Midvale and Rochester avenues
•    Roebling and Levering avenues
•    Strathmore Drive and Landfair avenue

Students ages 18 and older and Los Angeles residents 21 and up can pay $8 per hour or $66 per day during the week, or $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends to go shopping, pick up groceries, go on road-trips or more. New members currently receive $50 worth of free driving in their first month.

Reservations can be made at www.zipcar.com/LA. 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.

After making the announcement this morning in front of City Hall, 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 Councilman Bill Rosendahl, chair of the Transportation Committee. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Zipcar currently 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.

-- Tiffany Hsu
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