Car-sharing has been around for almost 15 years in California, beginning with the founding of City CarShare in San Francisco back in 2001. In recent years, Southern California has become a proving ground for new shared mobility models, with developments in bike-sharing and ride-sourcing popping up so quickly that it can be hard to keep track. Meanwhile, however, progress in neighborhood-based car-sharing has been slower to advance.

That’s unfortunate because the benefits of car-sharing programs are significant. Thanks to the research of Susan Shaheen at UC Berkeley, we know that every car added to a car-share fleet takes between nine to 13 private vehicles off the road. As members use car-share vehicles for grocery shopping, doctors’ visits and other errands, many realize it’s possible to forgo the expense and hassle of owning a car.

Live.Ride.Share, a new conference scheduled to take place on February 23 in Los Angeles, will explore these and other benefits as they relate to car-sharing and shared mobility in Southern California.

Car-Sharing in Los Angeles

One of the regions in SoCal with the most interesting developments in car-sharing is Los Angeles. Currently, the LA area is home to about 500 car-share vehicles from providers including Car2Go, Getaround and Zipcar. At Los Angeles International Airport, three companies – Flightcar, Hubber, and RelayRides – also now allow flyers to rent their cars out to visitors while they’re out of town.

When you put this all together, however, the map still looks spotty, particularly in many neighborhoods with good transit and lots of car-free households – areas where car-share usually thrives.

This lack of progress may be partly due to car-sharing’s tumultuous history in the City of Angels. Car-sharing began in LA a decade ago with a fleet of 40 vehicles launched by mobility provider Flexcar.

Zipcar took over its fleet in 2007 and refocused operations on college campuses, where Flexcar had found the most success.

Since then, car-sharing under Zipcar has gradually been making a strong comeback, with the service now featuring more than 200 vehicles in neighborhoods such as Downtown LA, Hollywood, and the University of Southern California and University of California-Los Angeles campuses.

Looking Ahead

The future of car-sharing in LA and Southern California looks much brighter in light of recent developments in 2014, including:

–Car2Go, which offers one-way of car-sharing, launched in several South Bay neighborhoods within the past year and is discussing expanding into Downtown LA.

–Zipcar and the City of Pasadena are collaborating on a new pilot program which builds on the operator’s success with an on-street pilot program.

–The City of Los Angeles is reconsidering a strategy to incentivize car-sharing program growth through the use of public spaces.

–Southern California is well positioned to be competitive in the Air Resources Board’s forthcoming solicitation for pilot programs in disadvantaged communities.

To explore these and other trends, the Shared-Use Mobility Center has partnered with Move LA, National Resources Defense Council, TransitCenter and others to host Live. Ride. Share. on February 23rd, 2015.

At the event, we’ll discuss ways that SoCal can accelerate these developments, along with those in bike-sharing and ride-sourcing, in a way that improves public transit for all. We’ll also dive into pressing issues such as:

-How can on-street programs move from pilots to a region-wide network?
-What can operators do to better adapt services to work for people from all economic backgrounds?
-How might new cap and trade proceeds fuel the growth of car sharing in Southern California?

So, save the date for Live.Ride.Share. and stay tuned for more information!

This post is the first in a series exploring shared mobility trends in Southern California. Further reading about car-share’s history in the Los Angeles area is available at the following sites: