Tel Aviv on Sunday unveiled its municipal car-sharing plan that will let users rent one of 260 vehicles to be dispersed around the city on a short-term basis, measured in minutes, when the program is launched this fall.
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Officials said they hope the Tel-Auto program would help alleviate the city’s chronic traffic and parking problems, even though the plan calls for reserving 520 parking spaces around the city for the cars.
“We are going ahead on the assumption, based on similar systems around the world, that every shared car reduces by four the number of private cars on the roads,” said Mayor Ron Huldai at an event for Tel-Auto. “In Israel, a project like this is important because 20% of the time – Sabbaths and holidays – there’s no public transportation.”
Under the program, which is being run by the Shamir Group’s Car to Go unit, people who join the program will be able to pick up or park a car in one of the 520 reserved places or (in an alternative unique to the Tel Aviv program) at a blue-and-white street-parking spot.
Users will have to pay a monthly fixed fee of 50 shekels ($13.10) to join, plus additional charges by the minute when they use one of the minicars. Officials said the usage fee hadn’t been determined yet, but they promised it would be inexpensive and that the fee would be the same no matter the day or hour.
Users will be able to locate and reserve a car over a smartphone application and will get a smart card that unlocks and operates the car once they have it. There will be no time limit on how long a car can be rented.
Municipal officials said they are preparing for protests from city residents who lose curbside parking in their neighborhoods to spaces reserved for the Tel-Auto program. But Huldai said the city had no choice.
“The age of private cars is coming to an end. There isn’t enough room on the road for all these egotistical vehicles. The solution is only public and shared transportation and bicycle paths – and that’s what we are doing,” he said.
The cars to be used are tiny Hyundai 10is with a 1.0-liter engine and automatic gears. Officials said they would examine adding bigger cars suitable for families as the program develops.