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People who don’t have cars in the Hollywood area have a new option for getting around through an expansion of the Zipcar program, which provides vehicles that can be rented by the hour, day or longer.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, joined representatives of Zipcar on Dec. 16 to announce the expansion of the program, which had previously only been available in Los Angeles at universities such as USC, UCLA and Loyola Marymount. Zipcar uses Toyota Priuses, Mazdas and Scions that will be parked at five locations near Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. People can sign up for the Zipcar program via the Internet, and make arrangements to use the vehicles for up to four days. The start-up cost is $25 for registration, plus a $50 yearly fee. Zipcar completes a driver’s license check, and within three to seven days, issues a card to users. The Zipcars can then be reserved for a particular time and at a particular location. Users in Hollywood must be 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license. The rates are $8 per hour, with a daily rate of $66. Weekends cost a little more, with hourly and daily rates at $9 and $72, respectively. The fee covers gasoline and insurance. Once a reservation is made, the user’s card is activated electronically and they can use it to open the pre-rented vehicle, which has a key inside.
Garcetti said the Zipcar program is another component of the city’s push to get people to use alternative forms of transportation, and added that he hopes the program will expand even further into other parts of the city.
“A little over one year ago, we kicked off the pilot program and brought Zipcars to college campuses. [Hollywood] has become a highly walkable neighborhood, with lots of public transportation opportunities,” Garcetti said. “Now, Hollywood is again at the center of showing people what is possible. Living in Los Angeles without a car, who would have thought?”
While the Zipcar program is useful for residents, it is also viewed as a valuable asset for business travelers or tourists visiting the Hollywood area. Ten of the Zipcars will be located in Hollywood, with two vehicles parked curbside at five separate locations. They include Vine Street between Sunset Boulevard and Selma Avenue, and near the intersections of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, Wilcox Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, Highland Avenue and Yucca Street, and Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar Avenue. Zipcar worked with Garcetti’s office to determine the best locations for the vehicles where there is heavy foot traffic and nearby links to public transportation. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is working with Zipcar to ensure the curbside locations are clear and accessible. Users can chose between a hybrid or gasoline-powered vehicle. The Toyota Priuses and Scions used by the program were purchased from Toyota of Hollywood, further boosting the program’s impact on the local economy.
Villaraigosa also hailed the Zipcar program for its benefits to the environment and its potential for reducing traffic congestion. Officials estimate that the Zipcar program can take 15 vehicles off the road each day. With the addition of the new Zipcars in Hollywood and the others located at universities, there are currently 75 of the vehicles located in Los Angeles.
“Imagine if we had thousands of these?” Villaraigosa said. “We could have a major impact on the environment and on our roads. It’s an innovative approach to transportation, one that will clean and green our city.”
Representatives of Zipcar estimate that the vehicles can save people up to $500 per month depending on how often the vehicles are used. The savings result from not having to buy gasoline or insurance. Users are asked to leave at least a quarter-tank of gas in the vehicle for the next user, and there is a Zipcar credit card for gasoline in each vehicle if necessary. Zipcar uses the honor system with the gas card, but safety measures are in place to prevent abuse, according to Coleen McCormick, a spokesperson for the company. The credit card is attached to the car by a pull-cord so it will only reach a pump that is nearby, and the user is required to enter their Zipcar identification number and the mileage of the vehicle at the pump. Zipcar allows the user to purchase gasoline for approximately 180 miles in driving, and the pump will not be activated if the correct information is not used. If someone does not leave a quarter-tank of gas for the next user, they are charged $20. An additional $50 fee is charged if the vehicle is returned late, and Zipcar can charge up to $150 if the vehicle needs extensive cleaning. Zipcar also offers free 24-hour roadside assistance.
“We applaud the City of Los Angeles and its commitment to embracing innovative transportation options,” said Dan Grossman regional vice president for the West Coast for Zipcar. “Zipcar wants to be a star in Hollywood. As we looked to expand our vehicle locations in Los Angeles to meet our growing Zipcar base, Hollywood was the logical location.”
While the Zipcar program is relatively new in Los Angeles, the program is already well established in 28 major cities and states including New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Boston. Representatives of Zipcar said they next hope to expand the program to downtown Los Angeles.
For information, visit www.zipcar.com.