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DC reduces its municipal fleet under innovative car-sharing scheme

Kaid Benfield

Posted April 29, 2009 in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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In a move that will be the first of its kind in the country, Washington, DC's local government is adopting a system whereby its employees will share cars for official business, rather than having the vehicles permanently assigned to individuals or departments.  The new Zipcar-like system will allow the city to reduce its municipal fleet from 360 to 48 vehicles.

a Zipcar vehicle in DC (by: masck, creative commons license)Actually, the new system will not just be Zipcar-like; it will be run by Zipcar itself.  Nikita Stewart writes in The Washington Post:

"The District is serving as the testing ground for what Zipcar is calling FastFleet, its service for governments. Zipcar Chief Executive Scott Griffith said he could not disclose which cities might use the car pooling system next, but '12 to 15 are in the pipeline.'

"Zipcar allows the city to use its technology, including equipping the cars with Global Positioning System devices. Such technology allows the city to better monitor who is driving its cars and where they are going. The city pays Zipcar a one-time fee of $1,200 a car to install the technology and $115 a month per vehicle to maintain it."

One of the differences between "retail" Zipcar and the FastFleet system is that in this case the DC government rather than Zipcar will own the vehicles.  DC mayor Fenty claims the new arrangement will produce a savings of $6.6 million over five years.

The story does have an unfortunate conflict-of-interest wrinkle, in that Washington's transportation director owns a small portion of Zipcar and is a former regional director of the company.  Stewart's article reports that the deal was in the works before the director, Gabe Klein, was offered the government position and that he has recused himself from all involvement in the arrangement.

Go here for the full story.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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