Hoboken: Car-Share Hero

The first of 42 “Corner Cars” roll onto the streets of Hoboken this Wednesday, kicking off what city officials say is the nation’s first city-wide car sharing program: 90% of residents will live within a five-minute walk of a shared vehicle. The city estimates that the program has the potential to remove 750 cars from Hoboken streets in the first year, meaning less carbon in the air and less traffic on the roads.

According to the Census Bureau’s 2006-08 American Community Survey data, 64% of employed Hoboken residents take transit or walk to work. The car-share program will give many of them the option to give up a personal car and save money while doing so. Rates will start at $5 an hour.

As city spokesman Juan Melli put it, “We’re attacking parking from the demand side, where previously people just looked at the supply side. This is like building a huge parking garage that doesn’t cost anything.” It’s actually far better, from both a revenue and an urban perspective. Hertz will pay the city $100 a month for each Corner Car parking spot, generating at least $50,000 in annual city revenue at a time when all municipal budgets are stretched thin. And the city won’t have to devote more real estate to parking, helping it maintain its walkable character.

Hoboken has consistently proven itself a leader in implementing innovative and sustainable transportation programs that make it safe and easy for residents to cycle, walk, take transit or drive. In fact, it was the first NJ municipality to get Zipcar service back in 2002. Melli said he hopes other New Jersey cities will see the benefits of creative transportation demand management and adopt similar policies.

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