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Car-sharing services expand in Roxbury, Dorchester

City’s DriveBoston program looks to reduce auto ownership

Jule Pattison-Gordon | 9/2/2015, 10:16 a.m.

While car sharing services have taken off in much of Boston, with Zip Cars parked in neighborhoods across the city, access to hourly car rentals has long eluded Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.

Now the Department of Transportation’s new DriveBoston program promises to bring car share vehicles to these and other underserved neighborhoods. Already Zip Cars have been placed at 30 Ruggles Street and at Haley House Bakery and Café at Dade/Washington Street in the Dudley Square area.

Last week Mayor Martin Walsh announced the launch of the program, a collaboration between Zipcar, Enterprise Carshare and the Boston Transportation Department that will bring 80 car share vehicles to Boston. DriveBoston rolled out last week and will continue adding vehicles into the fall.

DriveBoston is a part of Go Boston 2030, the city’s initiative for planning long-term transportation improvements. DriveBoston says its goals are to decrease parking pressure by reducing the number of vehicles owned by each household and freeing up parking spaces on curbs, better connect the Main Streets Business Districts, increase visibility of car sharing services, and improve Boston’s transportation network by creating “mobility hubs” along bus routes and at key MBTA stations.

The Mayor’s press office also emphasized the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The program has been greeted with both excitement and worry.

DriveBoston calls for 12 car share vehicles to be located in Roxbury, 10 in Dorchester, and 8 in Jamaica Plain. Of the total 80 cars, 48 will have spaces reserved in municipal lots, and 32 will be on-street. A full list of locations is available on the web: boston.gov/driveboston.

The first cars were introduced at the Ruggles Street lot in Dudley Square last week.

Under a car share program, customers check out a vehicle, pay by the hour, and return it to the same parking spot where they picked it up. Most program plans also charge a membership fee.

Location selection

The city was especially interested in discouraging households from purchasing a second car by letting the Zipcar or Enterprise vehicle serve that role, said Kris Carter, co-chair of the mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.

To determine the spots, the city looked at “households that have more than one vehicle, that drive less than 16 miles a day, and at how to connect the households both to rapid transit systems and subway systems,” he said.

The city’s planning department worked with the Office of Neighborhood Services to select locations, based on need and available space at municipal lots, said Carter

Choosing the companies

Enterprise and Zipcar were selected after they submitted proposals in response to the Transportation department’s RFP. Criteria considered in the review process included where the companies proposed placing cars, their experience running car shares in other cities, how they had handled snowstorms and street cleaning and how easily members could join, said Carter.

As its part of the collaboration, the city offered the car share companies the option to purchase spaces in municipal lots. Downtown spaces were sold for $3,500 and spaces outside of the downtown area for $2,700.