August 18, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
When Washington, D.C., government employees need a vehicle from the city's fleet, they can now reserve one online and use a special card that unlocks and tracks the car. Besides making life easier for city workers, the DC Fleet Share program streamlined the district's fleet management, cut costs and increased utilization of the vehicles.
Participating agencies create an account, so their employees who choose to register receive a vehicle access card, which tracks who is using a particular car and which account should be charged. City vehicles are used in the program and were outfitted with a modem and card reader that are linked to the ignition and door locks.
Agencies forgo the cost of owning cars and instead only pay for the time in hourly increments their employees use the city's vehicles. The hourly fees incorporate the vehicle's purchase or lease cost, maintenance fees and fuel.
The district piloted DC Fleet Share in October 2008 with 29 vehicles located at four sites, and has since expanded it to 58 vehicles at eight sites. The city uses software from Zipcar -- a large car-sharing company based in Cambridge, Mass. -- to run the Fleet Share program, said Ralph Burns, vehicle control officer for the district's Fleet Management Administration.
Starting with the company's basic FastFleet platform -- a car-sharing program that utilizes a Web-based reservation system -- the district and Zipcar developed government-specific improvements, like changing the reporting functions.
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