Berkeley Transit Options Grow With New City CarShare Site

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A car sharing organization has partnered with a local nonprofit center by opening a new location in Berkeley earlier this month.

On April 9, City CarShare-a nonprofit organization that provides vehicles to paying members on an hourly basis-opened the location under the soon-to-open David Brower Center.

The center, which aims to lease space primarily to nonprofits, has an environmentally conscious tenant community that will actively use the service, said executive director Amy Tobin.

"It's great to be able to go downstairs, take a car for a few hours and then take it back," Tobin said. "You're cutting down on people driving to and from work."

The city aided City CarShare's growth by mandating that developers offer the organization parking spaces beneath the center, said Matt Nichols, Berkeley's principal transportation planner.

Since its establishment in 2001, the San Francisco-based organization has opened 28 sites and provided 40 cars for members in Berkeley, said Anita Daley, the organization's membership development and outreach director.

"We consider ourselves to be an extension to alternative transportation," she said.

Because members must pay hourly to use the vehicle, Daley said they are conscious of their driving time and more likely to perform multiple tasks in one trip, reducing fuel usage.

A 2006 UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development report found that members used the service for 4.8 percent of their daily trips in 2005, down from 6.5 percent in 2003.

"While there was a surge in carshare activities in the early years of City CarShare, the novelty effect of sharing cars might have worn off over time," the report stated.

Daley attributed the statistic to a different type of clientele the service has attracted since its inception. She said many new users prefer to use the service to supplement a primary vehicle, therefore requiring the service less often.

The organization encourages members to use alternative transportation, Daley said.

BART Director Bob Franklin said he has seen a steady increase in carshare services available for transit riders.

"Its great," he said. "It's not a huge impact at this point, but it's popular enough that they keep expanding."


Contact Zach A. Williams at [email protected]

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