Could car-sharing work in Breck?
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Town Councilmember Jim Lamb – among those instrumental in getting the town to switch its diesel fleets to biodiesel fuel – now wonders if a car-sharing program could work in town.Such programs are already in place in other cities, including Seattle, Berkeley, Calif., Philadelphia, and Aspen. The program is designed for people who want to share cars, thus reducing the costs of insurance and maintenance.Members sign up for a nominal fee – it’s $25 to apply in Aspen and $10 more a month for administrative costs – then sign up to use one of the car-share company’s cars. They then drop the car off at a designated spot in time for the next member to use.In Aspen, the hourly rate is $3.50, and the per-mile rate is 20 cents. So a trip to Glenwood Springs would cost $27 and allow for the member to drive 100 miles and use the car for four hours. A trip to Grand Junction would be $54, include 200 miles and eight hours of drive time. Gas is included in the cost.The company foots the bill for gas, tuneups, registration and insurance. Most use a 24-hour phone or Internet reservation system. Some of the cars are hybrids or use compressed natural gas, further reducing pollution.The car-sharing idea has spread to more than 20 cities throughout the world, particularly as the price of gas has reached record highs and parking, maintenance and insurance costs rise.Lamb thinks it might be an idea whose time has come.”Car-sharing seems to have worked well in high-density cities in Europe, Asia, San Francisco and London,” he said. “Yes, Breckenridge is a small town, but if you look at, say, the historic district, where it’s nine units per acre, such a project could work in this kind of environment. We are better set up to not own cars than a lot of other communities I’ve ever seen.”The ideal car-sharing member could be a 19-year-old who’s taking a year off from college to be a ski bum.”Let’s say he’s working as a lifty, he’s not getting rich, rent is sucking all his money out of his wallet and he really can’t afford a car,” Lamb said. “He’s happy to walk to coffee shops, take the bus to work, but he needs a car from time to time.”But Lamb received a rather cool reception to the idea when he presented it to fellow council members last week.”The council didn’t know what to think about it – several admitted they hadn’t heard of it,” Lamb said. “I think it’s similar to when alternative energy first came up. It was relatively new, relatively experimental. It’s not that they’re opposed to it, they just hadn’t heard of it.””It’s an interesting concept,” said Rob Millisor. “But I need to learn more about it.””In principle, it’s a great idea, it’d be great for the community,” said Councilmember Jeffrey Bergeron. “But whether it would fly in Breckenridge …”Lamb thinks it could.”Look at roommates who share a car – they’re car-sharing,” he said. “How about a couple with one car? They’re car-sharing. And how are timeshares different?”Eventually, it could take a strike at drivers’ wallets to get them to take such an idea more seriously.”Let’s watch oil go to $60 a barrel,” Lamb said. “It’s obviously not hugely successful in this country right now, but it’s been a huge success in Europe since the mid-80s.”Lamb admits he doesn’t know if the idea would work in Breckenridge. And he’s not sure how a company would be created. He would like the town to apply for a technical assistance grant through Northwest Colorado Council of Governments to see if it’s viable for a small town like Breckenridge.”It’s new to me, as well,” he said. “I don’t know if it’ll work. I just think it’s worth looking into.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or email@example.com.
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