MINNEAPOLIS – HOURCAR is now serving Minneapolis city employees with car-sharing.
"We’re proud to be working with HOURCAR to use cars by the hour for city business. It’s convenient, saves the city money, and it’s great for the environment," says Scott Benson, who chairs the Minneapolis City Council’s Health, Energy and Environment Committee.
The partnership is one of many steps undertaken by Minneapolis to improve the local environment. HOURCAR, the Twin Cities’ fast-growing car-sharing program, serves the city with its fleet of new Toyota Priuses, gas-electric hybrids which regularly garner over 47 miles to the gallon and produce relatively few emissions.
Mayor R.T. Rybak noted, "HOURCAR is a great example of one of the many innovations that Minneapolis embraces – technology comes together with green principles to form a great transportation solution for our city."
Participating city employees can make self-service reservations online or by phone, pick up an HOURCAR at the nearby Gateway Municipal Ramp, or in several other nearby hubs, return the car to the same reserved parking space, lock it up, and walk away. The process is simple and convenient – there are no lines to wait in, and no paperwork to fill out. Cars have on-board computers to record trip information and members are billed monthly. The costs for gas, insurance, and parking are included. The city will receive a detailed monthly invoice listing all employee trips. At the end of the pilot project, the city will evaluate performance and savings and will make recommendations on program expansion.
The HOURCAR partnership is an initiative of the city’s Environmental Management and Safety Division, with participation from the Environmental Coordinating Team’s Green Fleets Committee and Public Works-Equipment Services Division. Gayle Prest, Manager of Environmental Programs, says, "We are excited and employees have been very supportive. Using HOURCAR is very convenient, and we will be able to evaluate costs and greenhouse gas emission reductions."
Research shows that car-sharing – which spreads the fixed cost of car ownership across several users – can cut household, business, or government transportation costs when substituted for private or fleet cars. HOURCAR, the Twin Cities’ first car-sharing organization, is convenient for members, good for the environment, and makes driving more affordable.
The Minneapolis effort parallels a major project underway in Philadelphia, where city leaders have committed to cutting 330 vehicles from its fleet and $9 million in expenses by using a vehicle-sharing program. HOURCAR is Minneapolis’ local non-profit car-sharing provider. Mary Morse, executive director of HOURCAR’s parent organization, the Neighborhood Energy Consortium, says "We’re delighted to serve the city with car-sharing. Making Minneapolis a more livable, green city is a major driver behind this partnership, but reducing city costs and adding convenience for employees are equally important. HOURCAR exists to add value to our community. Now the door is open for other state and local governments to green their fleets’ with HOURCAR."
For information on hub locations, rates, or to join online, visit www.HOURCAR.org.