Palo Alto's carless commuters and residents now have their pick from 10 available-for-rent Zipcars, thanks to the car-sharing company's expansion into the city's downtown garages Thursday.
Zipcar partnered with the City of Palo Alto to bring in the 10-vehicle fleet, which is meant to serve as an affordable and convenient option for people who don't own a car. Membership is required, though and costs $25 per year with rental rates in Palo Alto starting at $8.50 per hour and $74 per day (24 hours). Those rates cover gas, insurance and 180 miles per day. Cars can be rented for as short as an hour or up to a week. Members can reserve a car at any time either online or via a smartphone app.
Zipcar reviews all applicants' driver's licenses and driving records before approval.
A wide range of cars are available in Palo Alto, including a fuel-efficient Toyota Prius Hybrid, Volkswagen Passat, Ford Focus sedan and Hyundai Elantra, among others. The cars have designated parking spots located at the Civic Center Garage, Lot H, Lot K and Lot N, from which they can be picked up and dropped off.
Zipcar has already operated at Stanford University for several years, with more than 50 vehicles currently available.
"With continued success and a strong Zipcar membership base at Stanford University, our expansion into the downtown Palo Alto area gives our members even more access to a sustainable, convenient and cost-effective transportation option," Zipcar San Francisco General Manager Michael Uribe said in a statement. "These new locations make Zipcar even more convenient and accessible to residents and students, which will help reduce demand for parking and overall congestion in the city."
Zipcar's expansion was announced at an event in front of City Hall on Thursday. Mayor Nancy Shepherd emphasized the potential positive impact the car-sharing service can have on Palo Alto's ever-worsening parking woes and traffic congestion.
"Car sharing services like Zipcar are an important component of the City's overall efforts to address the increasing traffic and parking issues in the area," she said in a statement. "Our partnership with Zipcar supports our goals of reducing traffic and carbon emissions by providing an alternative to car ownership for commuters and residents."
Employees of local businesses can take advantage of the company's Zipcar for Business program, which offers discounted rates Monday through Friday.
More information and membership rates are available at zipcar.com/2014paloalto.