Car sharing just got cheaper | AspenTimes.com

Car sharing just got cheaper

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s car-sharing program has cut its prices in response to input from its members.

The new rates will be in effect for at least six months, both for existing members of Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles and for new members who sign up by April 1.

When the city of Aspen established the program last June, organizers based the rates, in part, on what similar programs in other cities were charging, explained Lynn Bader, Aspen’s transportation coordinator.

Aspenites, however, have slightly unique travel patterns. They have, as it’s known in the local lexicon, “the Wal-Mart run.”

Local car-sharing participants don’t need the vehicle for short trips around town – the way car-sharing participants in other cities do – they need it for the shopping trip to Glenwood Springs, Bader said.

“Here, people are driving 40 miles and back,” she said. “That’s the trip most people are taking, and it was just too expensive.

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“Upon surveying our members, the main thing that kept them from using the car more was the price.”

So, members are now enjoying rates of $1.25 an hour and 15 cents per mile to use the Toyota Prius assigned to the program. That’s down from $2 an hour and 50 cents per mile. With its debut, the program had also offered a special downvalley rate of $30 or $45, depending on the type of membership.

Now, the new rates have dropped the cost of a four-hour trip to Glenwood to $20, including gas, for all members. An eight-hour trip to Grand Junction costs $40.

Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles is hoping to double its membership to offset the drop in rates, Bader said. Since introducing the cheaper rates, the program has already signed up three new members and was expecting to sign up a fourth late last week.

The program has 20 members, 10 of whom use the car regularly, according to Gavin Seedorf, the city staffer who oversees it.

Some early members of Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles suffered a bit of sticker shock when the first monthly bill for use of the vehicle arrived in the mail. The rate reduction should help ease a participant’s transition to the car-sharing arrangement, he said.

“By lowering our rates, we just wanted to lower that barrier a little more,” he said.

Even before the rate reduction, car sharing was far cheaper than paying all of the costs associated with owning a vehicle, like insurance, registration and maintenance, Seedorf pointed out.

In addition to the rates for using the vehicle, members pay $10 per month and a one-time $25 application fee.

Most of the active members in the program do not own a vehicle; a few households have signed up to gain access to a second vehicle when they need it.

“It’s a great alternative to a second car,” said Bader, who joined for that reason.

Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles is in the first year of a three-year trial in car sharing. Aspen and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency helped subsidize its start up.

If it attracts enough members, the program will look to add a second vehicle to its fleet, possibly a station wagon, Seedorf said.

The Prius is a low-emission, gas-electric hybrid vehicle. Members reserve the car via a touch-tone reservation system. They each have a key to a lock box that contains the car keys. Gas, insurance and maintenance costs are covered by Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles.

For more information about the program, log on at http://www.roaringforkvehicles.com or call 920-5066.

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