Berkeley’s first one-way car-sharing program to launch April 30

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Daniel Kim/Senior Staff

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Gig Car Share, an app that could help community members avoid pricey parking costs, will launch as Berkeley’s first one-way ride-sharing program April 30.

Customers will be able to use an app to pick up and drop off a car at any of the Gig Car Share locations in Berkeley and Oakland. Berkeley City Council passed its One-Way Car Share Ordinance in October 2016, which allows car-sharing businesses to operate in Berkeley. Gig Car Share is the first of such companies to apply and receive the necessary permits to do business in Berkeley.

“The launch is a pilot, and we would be sussing that out from all points of view, like whether it is being used, whether people appreciate the service being provided and whether the funds are adequate,” said Councilmember Sophie Hahn.

Hahn said one of the benefits of this transit option is that Gig Car Share’s hybrid vehicles will help lower emissions and could replace the use of other cars that might be more harmful to the environment. She added that people will be willing to pay premium for the convenience that this service provides.

The One-Way Car Share Ordinance allows for any car-sharing program to purchase permits for parking spots. Gig Car Share will pay a base fee to the city and an additional fee in accordance with the amount of parking spots it plans to occupy with its cars.

The company will pay for a number of parking spaces, and it will be able to adjust the number of parking spots it purchases at the end of the year based on demand, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

“Our program allows us to issue up to 1,600 permits per year with no more than 700 per company,” said Berkeley Transportation Manager Farid Javandel in an email. “Gig Car Share has purchased 250 permits.”

Ben Gould, a campus environmental engineering graduate student and former Berkeley mayoral candidate, said he believes that this car-sharing program would be cheaper than owning a car or using services such as Uber or Lyft.

Gould noted that one of the biggest drawbacks of the program would be the uncertainty of getting a car when needed. He said getting access to a car could be difficult depending on both the time and location of the request.

“Planning a round trip with this option could be difficult,” Gould said. “You could go to work in the car, but when you’re coming back, everyone else might be going back from work too, so you wouldn’t be able to get a car near you.”

Contact Ambika Jaykrishna at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @a_jaykrishna.