Government car-sharing gets an upgrade

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Samer Farha’

WTOP has an interesting article on how the DC government is using ZipCar’s auto management technology to increase efficiency in their auto pool. I’m all in favor of the government reducing its number of cars on the road and it’s hard to argue with a projected $1M+ a year savings, but the article somewhat glosses a significant fact. The vehicles continue to be owned and maintained by the DC government, meaning that sharing vehicles in the auto pool isn’t something they couldn’t have already been doing on their own – this is just a licensed, managed solution they’re utilizing, and at an ongoing cost.

WTOP states that the fleet has been reduced by 17%, 360 cars. That works out to an original pool size of 2,117 vehicles, which reduced by 360 means 1,757 now. The article cites a monthly price of $65 to $90 per vehicle, so averaged that’s $77.50/vehicle/month, or $136,167/month for the whole fleet, $1,634,010 per year.


It would be interesting to what it would have cost to get a solution custom-built and run by a local firm.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


2 thoughts on “Government car-sharing gets an upgrade

  1. I’d hate to pay out the $$$ just to re-invent what Zipcars already had developed. I’m all for a bias in favor of local business, but this seems like a good decision. That said, I’d hope that Zipcars won this in a competitive bid process. If not… well that’s a whole different story.

  2. It’s the leased nature of the service that concerns me. If Zipcar isn’t handling the maintenance of those vehicles then that per-car fee is to lease the hardware installed in the vehicle and provide the online & phone service.

    The service aspect of the contract probably scales very nicely for them – providing that software service for 101 cars is not appreciably different in cost than providing it for 100 cars. If the 1000th car doesn’t cost the city less than the 500th car then this is probably not a good contract. Perhaps that accounts for the $90 to $60 per-car cost.