This should make it a lot easier for Angelenos not to own a car.
I argued a long time ago that governments should invest in car sharing. It seems the authorities in Los Angeles are inclined to agree. Because the city's Department of Transport—in partnership with a subsidiary of French transportation company the Bolloré Group—has just launched BlueLA.
Much like Paris' all electric car sharing service, and a similar scheme in Indianapolis called Blue-Indy, the new service provides members with on demand access to a fully charged electric vehicle as and when you need it, without the need to own.
Members simply pay a small monthly fee ($5 for most families, $1 for low income households), and then a per-minute usage charge (20 cents standard rate, 15 cents per minute for low income households) each time they use a car. According to LA Downtown News, the initial roll out only features 25 cars—but that will expand to 100 cars, 40 locations and 200 recharging points by the end of the year. By 2021, the goal is apparently to triple in size.
Now, TreeHugger has argued many times before that we need to rethink our transportation systems to be much less dependent on the car. But that's easier said than done in a city like Los Angeles. What schemes like BlueLA and Blue-Indy allow cities to do is to gradually introduce the notion that car ownership does not necessarily equate to freedom.
As more citizens discover the huge economic benefits of paying for car use as and when they need it, they'll also have an increased incentive to avoid car use unless it's actually necessary. As LA continues its transition to clean, modern electric buses and investments in bike infrastructure, I'd imagine BlueLA will give downtown residents significantly more confidence to finally pull the trigger on going car free.