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Mocean Expands L.A. Car-Sharing in San Fernando Valley

Pay-by-the-minute electric and hybrid car-share operations are becoming a regular part of the transportation mix in large cities as they seek to expand mobility options and reduce the need for car ownership.

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Pay-by-the-minute electric and hybrid car-share operations are becoming a regular part of the transportation mix in cities.
Shutterstock/Andrey Suslov
Car-share options continue to expand in Los Angeles County with the launch of Mocean Carshare in the San Fernando Valley.

The expansion of the service was done in coordination with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), which has been working to create a rich mix of public transit, private transportation providers like rentable bikes and scooters, and shared mobility in the form of rent-by-the-minute car-shares.

Mocean will locate its San Fernando Valley operation at the Warner Center, the city’s first Transportation Technology Innovation Zone. The car-share is operated by MoceanLab, an initiative by Hyundai Motor Group and will operate under Los Angeles’ Fixed Space and Free Floating Carshare pilot programs.

“The program is designed to explore potential new mobility options for L.A. residents,” said Colin Sweeney, a spokesman for Los Angeles Department of Transportation, adding the city helps to manage the program and ensure operators meet department rules and regulations.

“LADOT supports such programs to provide residents a wider range of mobility options while establishing regulations to protect neighborhood quality of life,” said Sweeney in an email.

Mocean has been operating about 100 cars in four zones — downtown, the Eagle Rock neighborhood, Brentwood and West L.A. — and now the San Fernando Valley. The cars in service are hybrid electric Hyundai Ioniqs and Kia Niros.

The San Fernando Valley was selected as an area for expansion, in part, because of the relatively high housing and job density in the area and ability to connect with public transit.

“The mix of families, young professionals and college students in the area makes it a prime location to offer alternatives to traditional car ownership for those looking for an additional household vehicle or for those simply living in L.A. without owning a car of their own,” said Dave Gallon, chief operating officer for MoceanLab.

The cars are accessed via a mobile phone app, much like bikes and scooters. Drivers locate them in a “home zone,” and return the car to the home zone it was initially rented from, or another zone within the system. The cost for using the cars is $.42 a minute, $14 an hour or $86 a day.

The program is not unlike a similar operation begun in Sacramento two years ago. That program, known as GIG, began with 250 fully electric vehicles. The cars are similarly priced at $0.49 a minute or $16.99 an hour. GIG, a AAA company, also operates in the Bay Area and Seattle.

Car-share operations, like micromobility providers in the form of bikes and scooters, are part of the modern evolution of urban mobility. As such, transportation officials have acknowledged they need to be part of the entire ecosystem of transportation if cities are going to effectively reduce single-occupancy car trips and expand mobility options across a wider cross section of the community.

Transit agencies should think of themselves as not just in the “service delivery business,” Seleta Reynolds, general manager of LADOT, said at the CoMotion MIAMI conference earlier this summer.

Reynolds argued they should think of themselves as being in the "overall mobility delivery business."

"And that means that you’re not just thinking about traditional public transit. You’re starting to invite in things like EV car-sharing; things like dockless bikes and scooters; things like municipal bike-sharing; things like microtransit. And you’re experimenting with those things, and you’re learning as you go,” she added.

Mocean Carshare is participating in LADOT’s free-floating car-share pilot project, Gallon pointed out.

“It is through this partnership that we are able to offer amenities such as free parking at any city of L.A. parking meter,” he added.

In addition, Mocean provides vehicles for the city’s new mobile crisis intervention program, which enlists outreach workers and behavioral health clinicians to respond to nonemergency calls involving homelessness and other issues.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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