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Old October 15th, 2007, 05:21 PM   #1
tampasteve
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Car sharing coming to USF - Eventually DT Tampa?

Lack A Vehicle? Try A Sharing Service

By Rich Shopes of The Tampa Tribune

Published: October 14, 2007

TAMPA - Car-less University of South Florida students could get an alternative to their usual transportation choices - walking, riding bicycles and taking buses - under a program that's showing up at campuses nationwide.

Called car sharing, the program offers students a chance to rent cars, hybrids, pickups and other vehicles by the hour and pick them up at designated parking spots. A researcher at the university's Center for Urban Transportation Research is exploring the idea and hopes to make a formal proposal within a few months.

"If students are living on campus and don't have a car, then you can rent one to go to the beach, or to the store, to move furniture, visit friends. It can be helpful in that sense," associate researcher Julie Bond said.

It's hard to say how many students and faculty might use the program - Bond is trying to come up with estimates - but the Tampa campus has 1,680 faculty members and 38,417 students, 4,326 of whom live in dorms.

School officials haven't signed off on the idea yet but say the concept sounds intriguing.

Car sharing works like this: Users sign up for a membership and receive a magnetic card to unlock the vehicles they plan to rent. Hourly fees range from $5 to $10. Annual memberships start at about $35.

The vehicles can be reserved online or by calling, and the company pays for insurance and gas.

The two main car-sharing companies, Cambridge, Mass.-based Zipcar and Seattle-based Flexcar, have programs on about 50 campuses nationwide, including the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Bond is director of the New North Transportation Alliance, a group that pushes for transportation options. She said the program is perfect for people like her who bike to work and occasionally take long trips. Bond used Zipcar on a recent visit to Washington, D.C.

"It's great. You just swipe the card and the doors unlock," she said. "You bring it back to the same spot when you're done."

The concept might one day be available throughout more of Tampa. The Tampa Downtown Partnership is considering bringing car sharing to downtown Tampa in 2012, by which time the city's Channelside and downtown populations are expected to have grown by 10,000 residents.

More than 1,400 condo units are under construction and 11,000 are planned over the next 10 years, said Patrick Berman, senior director at the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

The partnership is seeking a $90,000 federal grant through the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization to pay for the program's first-year costs.

"We're selling downtown Tampa as an urban experience, and when people move down here I don't think they'll want to drive their car everywhere," said Karen Kress, director of transportation for the downtown partnership.

"It's more affordable if a couple can get rid of their car. It cuts down on parking and they can rely on transit, bicycles or their feet, and if they need a car they can rent one," she said.

The University of Florida launched its program in January using Flexcar. It has eight vehicles: three hybrid Honda Civics, two Honda Odyssey minivans, a Honda Element, a Toyota Corolla and a Toyota Tacoma pickup.

The school pays $76,800 yearly to Flexcar, or $800 per month per car. Those who rent the vehicles pay the company $5.50 per hour, said Allan Preston, a coordinator for the school's maintenance division.

Under UF's agreement, rental fees that exceed $76,800 per year will go back to the university in the form of a reimbursement.

Preston said the idea is to boost membership and usage of the cars so annual revenue hits $153,600, or twice the amount paid each year to Flexcar. That would make the program self-sustaining.

So far, the school has 264 members. Preston figures it will need about 400 members to hit 100 percent reimbursement.

"The University of North Carolina did it within two years. I figure we can do it in the same time," he said, adding the two universities have similar enrollments.

Bond said she's working out the details of her plan and will make a formal pitch to university officials in a few months.

"It would be a good idea here if it would encourage students and faculty to use other transportation choices than driving their cars," she said. "It's good for the environment. It's good for saving energy and also for relieving congestion. That's always good."

Reporter Rich Shopes can be reached at (813) 259-7633 or rshopes@tampatrib.com.
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Old October 15th, 2007, 05:25 PM   #2
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I like the idea, I have heard of it in Chicago and LA before, great for students that need a car; or for anyone that needs a car and public transit does not go there. While this is a great plan in my opinion, we still need to address the fact that without a real transit solution like rail or monorail we just are not in need of this in DT Tampa for many years. THis is part of a overall transit free/lite solution, but not the whole picture.

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Old October 15th, 2007, 05:27 PM   #3
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This is a great idea. Hopefully we will get rail soon and we won't have to deal with cars at all.
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Old October 15th, 2007, 09:44 PM   #4
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I was a ZipCar user when I lived in Boston. It was great -- most of the time, I could walk or just take the T anywhere, but for grocery shopping or visiting friends in the suburbs, or going to the Cape, it was great to have a ZipCar right out in front of my building.
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Old October 16th, 2007, 12:00 AM   #5
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This is bad ass.
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Old October 16th, 2007, 05:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randommichael View Post
This is a great idea. Hopefully we will get rail soon and we won't have to deal with cars at all.
We can dream cant we haha I like this as a step up from there being only buses for those without cars, but it's still not anything near a quality solution.
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Old October 16th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #7
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Exactly, it is part of the solution, but honestly, it is kind of putting the horse before the cart so to speak....I believe that this would be much more useful if we had a rail solution in the ground, but I can see it being useful to USF students without cars...but in th elong run, without rail it just puts another car on the road.

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Old October 18th, 2007, 07:12 PM   #8
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Funny. I was talking to my parents the other day about this very concept (car sharing), but was talking about it in the context of downtown, and residential development there.

I was thinking that such a thing would be interesting to offer to downtown residents in a variety of ways... Just as a service available to anyone... or only to those who live DT as a means of reducing the need for parking... Which got me thinking, what if DT projects offered shared cars to its residents, and could thus build less parking? Wouldn't that save money all around and encourage transit minded urbanists to live DT?
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Old October 18th, 2007, 07:15 PM   #9
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Encouraging bikes would be another good thing for these developments. I haven't seen a lot of bike racks around.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 08:30 PM   #10
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^I agree, but you really can't blame people there imo... if there's one thing that DT Tampa's small blocks and on street parking aren't conducive to, it's bicycles.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 04:33 PM   #11
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Haha, bicycles would not work here. And if you live in DT Tampa, don't you try and walk to restaurants, clubs, and Lightning games? I'm not sure this would really be that popular.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 04:43 PM   #12
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I know that the MPO is trying to make Tampa more of bike friendly city, DT included. While it is not great now, it should get better with some time. Around the city it is already getting better. In the area where I work (Gunn hwy/ Dale Mabry/ Linebaugh) they added a bike lane a few months back, and I am going to start parking at a friends house and riding the last few miles a couple of times a week, so it is getting better.

Steve
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 04:49 PM   #13
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Highlands Ave down to Tampa St. is getting a bike lane.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 10:12 PM   #14
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Yea, the bike lane is already up to Kennedy. Not sure if they are going to go all the way to the CC, but that would be nice.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 10:24 PM   #15
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According to the MPO there is also going to be a bike lane down Nebraska. It should include the lane, refuge islands, and crosswalks.

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Old October 23rd, 2007, 10:29 PM   #16
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^IMO they should plan ahead and bike lane as many roads expected to have residents in the future in the core ASAP. Before there are actually people more down there and they have to tear up roads.

Also, more bike lanes would probably attract people to downtown as more livable. (Healthier, cheaper, and more enviormently friendly too)
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