Car-Sharing Plan Passes First City Obstacle

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Hoping to gradually decrease the size of its fleet, a City Council committee on Thursday approved a groundbreaking car-sharing pilot project with a St. Paul nonprofit.

The decision, if ratified by the full council next week, would authorize the city to enter into an agreement with the St. Paul Neighborhood Energy Consortium’s HOUR Car program. It would make a single Toyota Prius available to the staff of the Environmental Services Department at a discounted monthly rate.

Officials estimate that five to ten city employees would use the car during the pilot project, the first of its kind in the nation. If successful, the city would explore more car-sharing options and cut back on the number cars in its fleet. “We can be a role model for other governments, and we can be a role model for business,” Gayle Prest, the city’s manager of Environmental Services, told members of the Health, Energy, and Environment Committee.

That sentiment was echoed by Mary Morse, who presented the proposal for the Neighborhood Energy Consortium: “We’re looking for leadership and partnership with you.”

And the committee enthusiastically endorsed the idea, voting 4–0 to authorize the agreement. “Every time we do something to reduce the size of our fleet and do something to help the environment, I want to highlight it,” said chair Scott Benson.

The measure is expected to pass easily at the full council meeting January 27.

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