It’s low-in­come driv­ers’ turn

New auto-shar­ing pro­gram is bring­ing elec­tric cars to dis­ad­van­taged neigh­bor­hoods.

Los Angeles Times - - HIGHWAY 1 - By Rachel Spacek rachel.spacek @la­times.com Twit­ter: @rachelspacek

A car-shar­ing ser­vice is launch­ing in Los An­ge­les that is aimed at lower-in­come fam­i­lies that can’t af­ford eco-friendly cars.

The BlueLA Elec­tric Car Shar­ing Pro­gram, an­nounced by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday, will bring 100 elec­tric cars and 200 elec­tric ve­hi­cle-charg­ing sta­tions to West­lake, Pi­coUnion, Kore­atown, Echo Park and down­town Los An­ge­les start­ing this summer.

The cars will be avail­able 24/7 at self-ser­vice kiosks and can be rented by the minute or via a monthly sub­scrip­tion.

Ex­act rates haven’t been set, but city of­fi­cials said prices will range from 15 cents to 80 cents per minute of drive time.

State law­mak­ers have been push­ing Cal­i­for­ni­ans to con­sider zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cles such as hy­brids and elec­tric cars.

But going green can be es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult for low-in­come fam­i­lies.

“You can’t do a good en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­gram if it doesn’t in­clude ev­ery­one, and in­come should not dic­tate peo­ple’s ac­tivism,” Garcetti said.

BlueLA’s fo­cus on dis­ad­van­taged neigh­bor­hoods and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of lowe­mis­sion tech­nol­ogy makes it unique from other car­shar­ing ser­vices in the coun­try, said Hervé Muller, pres­i­dent of BlueLA.

Car-shar­ing com­pa­nies such as Zip­car charge rates that can add up to $78 per day, putting per­sonal trans­porta­tion out of reach for many low-in­come An­ge­lenos, Muller said. To make mat­ters worse, those fam­i­lies of­ten live in neigh­bor­hoods that have poor air qual­ity be­cause they are close to fac­to­ries and free­ways, ac­cord­ing to re­search from the city of L.A. Sus­tain­abil­ity Team.

Al­though any­one can rent a BlueLA elec­tric car, there are special in­cen­tives for low-in­come users.

Depend­ing on an in­di­vid­ual’s in­come, a 25% re­bate will be avail­able for those who pay by the minute, and a 40% dis­count may be ap­plied to the monthly sub­scrip­tion fee.

BlueLA sta­tions will be on-street, con­sist­ing of one self-ser­vice kiosk and four to five park­ing spots, each with an elec­tric charger. The ser­vice is point-to-point, so users don’t need to re­turn the car to the kiosk where they ini­tially picked it up.

BlueLA is a part­ner­ship be­tween Blue Solutions, a di­vi­sion of the Bol­lore group of France, and the L.A. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion. It is be­ing funded by a $1.7-mil­lion grant through Cal­i­for­nia Cli­mate In­vest­ments, a statewide pro­gram aimed at re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions and im­prov­ing pub­lic health in dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties.

Serge Ama­bile, gen­eral man­ager of Blue Solutions, said the goal of the car ser­vice is to give low-in­come res­i­dents op­tions other than pub­lic trans­porta­tion and to pro­vide them with au­ton­omy and in­de­pen­dence.

The ser­vice will be avail­able to those 18 and older with a driver’s li­cense.

Pho­to­graphs by Mark Boster Los An­ge­les Times

STATE Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Kevin de León gets be­hind the wheel Friday at BlueLA Elec­tric Car Shar­ing Pro­gram news con­fer­ence.

THROUGH the pro­gram, elec­tric cars can be rented by the minute or via a monthly sub­scrip­tion.

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