Cars can be shared in Aspen |

Cars can be shared in Aspen

Carolyn Sackariason
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado” Owning a car in this resort can be just as big of a pain as driving one. That’s why City Hall’s trying to get people out of their vehicles ” an effort that’s a driving force behind its car share program.

The city’s car share program recently added a ninth vehicle to its fleet, allowing residents to borrow a car when they need one.

The program, dubbed Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles, allows members to reserve a vehicle by telephone. Users ” who pay a monthly $10 membership fee ” are charged .25 cents a mile, and $4 an hour, which includes the costs of insurance coverage and gas.

The program began in 2000 and started with one vehicle to be used by city employees. Now, the community-wide program has five Ford Focuses, three Toyota Priuses and a truck.

Those vehicles are parked in designated spots near bus stops, waiting for the program’s 135 members.

As the program grows and more vehicles are purchased, they will be environmentally friendly like the Prius, a hybrid electric car.

The Ford Focuses also are good alternatives because they get between 32 and 35 miles per gallon, said Aspen’s car share coordinator, Erich Grueter.

Users access the cars via keys located in lock boxes near the vehicles. They fill out paperwork, which asks them to log the odometer reading, gas gauge and other pertinent information. After they are done, users simply park the car and are billed at the end of the month.

“It’s such a great alternative to the traditional version of having your own car and associated parking space,” said Randy Ready, assistant city manager who oversees the program. “We’re seeing lots of people selling their second cars and using their membership to the car share program instead.”

When factoring in the costs of car payments, insurance, gas, parking and wear and tear on the vehicle, the car share program ends up being an inexpensive alternative for many Roaring Fork Valley residents.

Roaring Fork Vehicles is modeled after one of the first car sharing programs in the country, a private company called Flexcar, which was started in Seattle. Its popularity spread across the West Coast and eventually competition arose on the Eastern seaboard with another company, Zipcar. The two companies then merged and now operate nationally as Zipcar.

Local businesses have joined Aspen’s program, forgoing the traditional “fleet vehicles” many would have purchased and used in the past. Two local architectural firms and one design company participate in Aspen’s program as an alternative to purchasing company cars.

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