Car-sharing program accelerates

Idle cars in The City can now be put to use in car-sharing programs after legislation was signed into law Wednesday.

The concept for the car sharing is that privately owned vehicles could be used in a program, and the owners would receive a portion of the payment used to drive the car. The hindrance has been that insurance companies will not allow such a program.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, signed legislation Wednesday that allows car owners to share their vehicles through a personal car-sharing program without losing their insurance.

“We are very pleased the governor signed the person-to-person legislation,” said Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, who proposed the bill in April. “Now, for-profit and nonprofit entrepreneurs will be able to get about the business of offering personal vehicle sharing.”

A pilot program — a partnership with Spride Car Share and City CarShare — is in the process of launching, said City CarShare CEO Rick Hutchinson.

With one car already set to go, Hutchinson said that since the bill’s signing, City CarShare has received an increased number of calls from owners looking to put their vehicles into the program. 

“This is so exciting because we will immediately have exposure to the concept of personal car sharing,” said Hutchinson.

During the coming months, Spride cars will be available in designated spaces throughout CarShare’s existing operating areas within The City. Borrowers will be able to locate the cars using mobile cell phone technology currently being developed by Spride.

The program is aiming to add 20 or more cars to the program to fully evaluate its effectiveness and to determine high-demand locations, according to Hutchinson.

After Jan. 1, when Assembly Bill 1871 goes in full effect, Hutchinson said they are hoping to expand beyond their traditional sharing areas and provide personal car sharing to people outside The City.

“The sky’s really the limit. I see no reason why there can’t be dozens and dozens of vehicles in the Bay Area sometime in 2011,” said Hutchinson.

The Spride car-sharing program is different from other cars-on-demand models like Zipcar because it will allow people to borrow cars both for short and long-term trips, possibly using the vehicles for an entire weekend.

“What we particularly like about this is it gives us increased flexibility without taking away availability for regular daily use,” Hutchinson said. “It will integrate what City CarShare already does but it will also enhance accessibility.”

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