City of Mount Vernon launches municipal car sharing program *UPDATE

Image of the downtown area of Mount Vernon, New York

In most cities across the nation, municipal workers have city-owned vehicles that are used to perform duties during the nine to five shift. After the work day comes to an end, the vehicles sit idle for the remainder of the evening and overnight hours. And then there are the weekends. What if cities found a way to make money by renting out the vehicles to residents when they're not being used for official business? Sounds like a good idea to us.

Mount Vernon, New York will become the first next city in the nation to undertake such a municipal-car-sharing program, and it's a little different than what we described above. The city will be supplied with two vehicles from Go-Eco, a car sharing company, that will be parked at city hall and utilized by municipal workers during the day. These are the cars that will be made available for rental at night and throughout the weekend. To partake in the program, residents must pay a $99 membership fee and additional hourly rental rates that start at $10. It may sound expensive to some, but remember, membership in a car sharing program often means that you no longer own a personal vehicle – eliminating insurance costs, monthly car payments and costly repair bills. In some cases, your hourly payment also covers the gas you use.

Though this particular program is run by Go-Eco, we could see a city doing something like this on its own in the future. It would certainly make economical sense to rent out off-duty vehicles. We can imagine residents showing an interest in such a program as long as the selection extends beyond the municipality staples like work trucks and cargo vans.

UPDATE: It was brought to our attention nearly immediately that Mount Vernon is not the first city in the nation to partake in a municipal car-sharing program. As it turns out, Aspen, Colorado has had a similar program for years now and you can read all about it here and here. Thanks to Michael for the tip!

[Source: LoHud | Image: Lance Palmer - C.C. License 2.0]

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