Three super-clean cars ordered for car sharing |

Three super-clean cars ordered for car sharing

Jeremy Heiman

A local car-sharing program should get rolling today.

Three silver 2001 model Toyota Prius automobiles to be used in the program are expected to be ordered Monday. Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles, a nonprofit corporation, will run the program, which is intended to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in Aspen and on Highway 82.

“With people paying only for what they use, you’ll end up with less traffic congestion,” said Gavin Seedorf, special projects coordinator for the city. “People won’t drive as much, because they’ll be paying for each use.”

The cars, leased from Bighorn Motors in Glenwood Springs, are expected to arrive in about four weeks or sooner, Seedorf said. The program will get under way in about two months.

Seedorf, who will be fleet manager for the project, said the car-sharing program will start as a two-year pilot program, with 45 members. Only program members will be able to use the vehicles, but membership will be open to anyone, even part-time valley residents, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Under most circumstances, users will be charged an hourly rate plus mileage. The fee is expected to be 50 cents per mile.

“If you only need to run from town to Truscott,” Seedorf said, “it’s only going to cost you three or four dollars, and you basically have your own car.” Members can take the car on an errand, park it and use it again for the return trip.

Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles may offer a discount package to accommodate shopping trips to Glenwood Springs. Though the details aren’t finalized, Seedorf said, $45 in mileage fees for a shopping trip might be prohibitive.

“So the discount might be $30 for a downvalley trip,” he said.

Longer trips, to places such as Denver or Grand Junction, would not be permitted, because they would take a car out of circulation for an entire day.

The cars will be left at prearranged locations, selected to provide convenience for the greatest number of users. Because the program was created in coordination with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, some of the locations are expected to be at affordable housing complexes.

Members will be able to reserve cars in advance by telephone. They then will be issued a door key that fits all the vehicles.

Start-up funding has come in the form of grants from the city of Aspen, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. But after start-up, it’s expected to be self-sufficient, Seedorf said.

“If enough people are using the vehicles,” Seedorf said, “it should internalize the cost, so no further subsidy should be necessary.”

The ratio of cars to members is based on successful car-sharing programs in Portland, Ore., Seattle and Cambridge, Mass. The membership numbers can be adjusted.

“If 40 of the members only use [the cars] once a month,” Seedorf said, “we’ll increase the membership.” If the program is successful with three cars, Seedorf said he hopes to increase the number of cars to seven.

The Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle using a combination of an electric motor and a gasoline engine, was chosen at the request of CORE, Seedorf said. The Prius has fuel economy ratings in the neighborhood of 60 miles per gallon.

Seedorf said he expects the cars to remain in good condition, because the users will have a sense of ownership.

“If you use it a lot, you’re going to want that car to be in good shape,” he said.

Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles will hold an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Sister Cities Room at Aspen City Hall.

Longer trips, to places such as Denver or Grand Junction, would not be permitted, because they would take a car out of circulation for an entire day.

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