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Davis, California

Friday, June 14, 2024

Car-share program zips into town

Zipcars have come to Davis, offering a quick form of transportation to those who like to get around.

The program, launched last Wednesday, allows members of the Zipcar program to rent one of the four new cars from locations around Davis for short periods of time.

Eight cars have been available on the UC Davis campus since Fall 2009, but memberships were restricted to students, faculty and staff over the age of 18.

Now residents 21 or older can also rent one of the vehicles from the city or campus. Those who are interested sign up on the Zipcar website to reserve a car. A personal “zipcard” is waved over the windshield to unlock the car.

“We are confident that having Zipcars in the city of Davis will add more incentives and opportunities for people to use mass transit, car pool, bicycle or walk downtown,” said Matthew Malloy, vice president of global university operations at Zipcar, in a press release.

“It will no longer be necessary for residents to own a car, and especially a second car, which will benefit both individuals’ pocketbooks and the entire community who should see fewer cars on the road.”

The program is part of the city council’s Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which was finalized last May. The establishment of a car-sharing program was one of their short-term goals.

Under the current agreement, the program can be dropped in a year if the city does not make at least half the cost of fees they pay per vehicle. The contract is on a 2-year pilot period.

“The more the cars are used, the less the city has to pay,” said deputy city manager Kelly Stachowicz in an e-mail interview. “We’ll evaluate after the first year and see if it makes sense to continue the program.”

If the cars go unused, it will cost the city $74,400, Stachowicz said. If the cars are used 30 percent of the possible time, the city will pay $20,659. If they are used 50 percent of the time, it will cost the city nothing.

“[The] city does not profit from the program,” Stachowicz said. “We have chosen to participate in it because it meets a policy goal to try to reduce overall carbon emissions and improve air quality.”

According to the city of Davis website, Davis drivers log over 1,300,000 miles a day. Although there is no projected reduction in mileage, national Zipcar surveys show that each shared car replaces 15 personally owned vehicles.

“The citizens of Davis have been asking for car sharing opportunities for several years,” said Kemble K. Pope of the Davis Climate Action Team, in a press release. “I’m confident that Zipcar will be a great fit for Davis, as it fits well with our ongoing quest to encourage alternative transportation choices and reduce our community’s carbon footprint.”

BECKY PETERSON can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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