By Jenny Hottle, Daily Record Business Writer
June 16, 2014
Originally published on thedailyrecord.com
About 200 Zipcars are helping to reduce carbon emissions in Baltimore and cut spending on parking.
The car-sharing service on Monday celebrated the grand opening of its Baltimore office in Harbor East and announced the addition of five vehicles to the area. Baltimore city, parking and transportation officials have been working with Zipcar to improve public transit since the company’s first vehicles showed up on the city streets in 2010.
Since then, Zipcar has increased its Baltimore fleet from 27 vehicles to more than 200 in city neighborhoods and on college campuses. Each shared car takes about 15 personally-owned vehicles off the road — about 3,000 total in Baltimore, according to a Zipcar Baltimore transportation survey.
As a result, Baltimore residents who use the service reduced their total carbon admissions by more than 8 million pounds in 2013, according to a Zipcar Baltimore transportation survey. The city also has saved about $75 million in 2013 because it did not need to build parking garages or lots for those estimated 3,000 cars.
“Our goal is to move as many people as we can with as few automobiles as necessary,” Baltimore District 1 City Councilman James Kraft said.
The transportation survey also found that car-sharing encourages members to walk more. About 26 percent of surveyed Zipcar Baltimore members said they walk more after they joined.
“That is exactly what we want from our transportation partners: encouraging people to get out more in this great city of Baltimore,” said Veronica McBerth, Baltimore Department of Transportation transit bureau chief.
Each Zipcar helps lower the demand for parking and help those who need a car to find parking closer to their homes, said Peter Little, executive director of the city’s Parking Authority.
“Our mission is to find or create and implement parking solutions here in Baltimore and be the authority on all things parking in Baltimore, Little said. “We see Zipcar as part of the solution.”
Zipcar President Kaye Ceille called Baltimore a model city for improving public transportation because of the cooperation between city departments and Zipcar to develop a strategy. The city also allowed Zipcars to use on-street parking, an option available in few cities, Ceille said. Most cities put Zipcar parking spots in garages or street-level lots.
The integration of Zipcar with existing public transportation acts as an immediate fix to the city’s sustainability goals, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
“The more permanent option that we have, Light Rail, makes Baltimore a more sustainable city over time,” Rawlings-Blake said. “But in the meantime, we have these innovative solutions like Zipcar. For me, it shows Baltimoreans want more transportation options and will continue to integrate those options and make Baltimore a more livable city.”
Zipcar featured photo by Max Franz.