Friday, July 28, 2006

Community Car Share of Bellingham

From the town that put the Buy Local movement on the map, comes the US newest carshare - Community Carshare of Bellingham. The Washington state non profit turned on its reservation system allowing members to start driving the group's Toyota Prius today.

Rates are a very economical $4.00 per hour + 25¢ per mile. Membership is $30 per quarter with a $250 refundable security deposit. Web reservations are free and phone reservations are $1 per call. They offer an all-day rate from Sunday through Friday of $50 plus mileage. Overnight usage between 9 pm and 7 am is charged for 2 hours + any miles.

Web reservations are made on home-brew software fromm one of the Board members. They're starting out low-tech with no on-board computer and low-cost keypad car security system (suggested by yours truly) and a lockbox inside each vehicle. They hope to add diesel VW Golf soon. The group got a $10,000 grant for the Prius from the local air quality agency.

Community Car of Bellingham is starting in one of the close-in neighborhoods near downtown, but hopes to make deals with Western Washington University, hospitals and downtown businesses as they grow. Bellingham is experiencing major growth and the group hopes to interest some developers in locating vehicles at their projects.

It's the brainchild of local business person Lorraine Wilde and others.Lorraine Wilde says she got the idea to bring carsharing to Bellingham after ready Alan Durning's book "This Place on Earth" and seeing "The End of Suburbia", several years go. She tried to get Flexcar interested in providing service in Bellingham but they felt it was too far away to run as a satellite operation and too small to operate as an independent carshare. Flexcar Seattle manager Jamie Cheney visited Bellingham and cooperated with the group advising the group on some start up issues.

Best of luck.