One of the ways that car sharing can save money is in the reduction of vehicle fleet maintenance. Blanca Juarez, alternative transportation manager for the University of Texas at Austin, notes that the university's car sharing service offers free business accounts, which means individual departments on the university can have accounts, regardless of department size. Because of the way that UT structures the vehicle fleet on campus, adopting the system made a lot of sense.
The university doesn't have its own dedicated motor pool, Juarez explained, even though there's a fleet maintenance department. Instead, individual departments purchase vehicles, and then use the shared fleet maintenance department to service their vehicles.
"It means that fewer departments have been purchasing vehicles," since car sharing was adopted, says Juarez. And considering how little some of those purchased vehicles were used, they were basically an unnecessary expense.
"Some of the department vehicles we have on campus are really old," says Juarez. "There are a couple of instances of 20-year-old vehicles that have fewer than 500 miles on them."
Juarez and Kimber both say that one of the biggest benefits to using car sharing is how much it pleases employees and gives them more choices and flexibility for transportation choices.
And for Kimber, especially, it has significant benefits to employee pocketbooks: "They can avoid paying for daily parking, which really adds up," says Kimber.
The use of car sharing networks has benefits that extend outside the campus, according to both Juarez and Kimber. When UT began using car sharing two years ago, it was the first in the area. Since then, more car sharing locations have been added to the community surrounding the university to off-campus meet demand.
Kimber has seen the same demand in Seattle. Members of the service who do not work at the hospital can still check out a car from the parking area. And with another location two blocks away, hospital employees generally don't have to worry about missing out if they need a vehicle.
The only downside, says Kimber, is that at present the network is only in the city of Seattle.
"I'd love to be able to introduce (car sharing) on some of my other campuses," she says. "I've even offered to be first in the market in locations outside the city."
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