City of Berkeley opens one-way car share applications

Brooke Whitney/Staff

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The city of Berkeley is accepting applications from companies interested in providing one-way car share.

One-way car share allows people to use a mobile application or website to quickly locate a nearby rental car and drive it to an intended location. The car would then be parked and distinguished as open for the next driver to use. All costs for the driver — gas, maintenance, insurance and parking — would typically be included in the anticipated rental cost of 35 to 50 cents a minute.

Every car sharing vehicle removes roughly nine to 13 other vehicles from the road, according to a city press release. The average car is parked 95 percent of the time, but Berkeley has limited parking space. One-way car sharing allows access to vehicles at a lower cost than ownership, the press release said.

“It’s up to the car-sharing organization to determine what the car-sharing area is,” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko in an email. “They may opt to only be in Berkeley. They may opt to be in multiple jurisdictions.”

An Oakland one-way car share pilot program is also in the works, allowing for a broader potential range of travel options.

The first company to show interest in conducting one-way car share has a target range of 10 vehicles per square mile in the lower regions of Berkeley, according to the press release. A vehicle could be within walking distance for most residents — just five to 15 minutes away.

Flexibility, convenience, environmental and economic benefit and consumer choice were emphasized by Jason Overman, a consultant who helped develop the city’s pilot program.

“You don’t have to reserve it for a specific time and you don’t have to bring it back to the spot you took it from,” Overman said. “That is a game changer … when something’s so much more useful, you’re incentivizing people to use it.”

The city of Berkeley declined to release a list of potential car share companies that have shown interest in the program, but Walter Rosenkranz, a senior business development manager of carmaker Daimler North America — of which car-sharing company Car2go is a subsidiary — provided details about Car2go’s services at the Sept. 27 City Council meeting.

“People use our service a lot of different ways,” Rosenkranz said at the meeting. “A lot of times, people will use it to go out to dinner and then their friends may be giving them a ride home — or they may take transit one way and just the timing doesn’t work out for the transit trip back.”

The pilot program is expected to begin in early 2017.

Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.