Car sharing pitched to cut costs

In an effort to save money and reduce abuse of its vehicle fleet, The City is close to finalizing a contract with two private car-sharing businesses.

Officials are expected to sign a $500,000 three-year deal with City CarShare and Zipcar Inc. for their fee service of providing the use of sedans for hours at a time. The deal is expected to improve The City’s fleet operations, which have long been plagued by inefficiencies and abuse, and also cut down on costs.

The Civil Service Commission is expected to vote Monday on whether to allow San Francisco to sign the contract. Negotiations between The City and the two companies began more than four months ago and are close to being finalized, according to City Administrator Ed Lee. If everything goes as planned, city employees would start using the service next month.

The way it would work is that city departments would pay an hourly and a mileage fee for each actual use of a car by a city worker.

Those employees who need a car to attend a meeting or two a week — such as middle managers or workers who need a car to conduct inspections — are considered perfect candidates for the car-share program.

San Francisco has not kept track of car usage by city workers, said Lee, who heads the office that oversees The City’s car fleet. Lee said he could not provide an estimate of how often such trips are made.

The car-share companies would provide The City with employees’ usage data and track it to ensure that the cars are being utilized for official business only.

With the use of car-sharing vehicles, San Francisco could begin thinning out its vehicle fleet — most likely by not purchasing new sedans to replace old ones.

“Fleet management believes that availability of the car-sharing vehicles will allow The City to manage our fleet growth responsibly and to reduce The City’s carbon footprint,” said a report from the City Administrator’s Office to the Civil Service Commission.

San Francisco’s program will resemble those already operating in The City’s school district, Berkeley, Oakland, Philadelphia and Seattle, according to the report.

The proposed contract builds on a recent study of the car fleet that found numerous management flaws and identified ways to save millions of dollars.

Mayor Gavin Newsom supports the proposed contract and recently has taken other steps to crack down on the use of city cars.

Fleet management

7,300

Approximate number of vehicles and pieces of equipment owned by The City for employees to perform job duties

2,700

Trucks and pieces of equipment — not including Muni buses, trailers and motorcycles — owned by The City

4,669

Vehicles driven by city employees, not counting Muni vehicles

1,369

Passenger cars

Source: City Administrator’s Office

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com
 

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