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New LASC Report: EV Carshare Planning, Pricing and Parking

New LASC Report: EV Carshare Planning, Pricing and Parking: Findings and Recommendations for the City of Los Angeles’ Electric Vehicle Carsharing Pilot Project

City of LA to Launch First Electric Carshare Program

By Betty Barberena, LASC Fellow

The California Air Resources Board awarded the City of Los Angeles a $1.6 million grant in May of 2015 to help the City implement and pilot an innovative, first-of-a-kind project to provide an equitable and sustainable mode of transportation for low-income communities in Los Angeles. The project, known as the Electric Vehicle Carsharing Pilot Project (Pilot Project), will launch in several Central L.A. neighborhoods between 2016 and 2017: Westlake-MacArthur Park, Pico Union, parts of Downtown, Echo Park and Koreatown.  The carshare and electric vehicle (EV) components will tackle both equity and environmental goals. Carshare services provide members with access to a shared fleet of vehicles for the purposes of short-term driving. These services are particularly beneficial for people who cannot afford to own and operate their own car, or do not need to use a car everyday. UC Berkeley research shows that carshare is also a sustainable mode of transportation because members significantly reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing their vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and increasing their use of active transportation and public transit for short-distance trips. On the EV side, these clean cars emit zero to little GHGs and smog. Reducing GHGs in California is not only a major goal of the California Air Resources Board, but also a requirement by law, thus this Pilot Project will have a fleet composed of at least 80 percent EVs.


Residents, community groups, and public officials gathered at an affordable housing development in Westlake-MacArthur Park in July 2015 for the announcement of the EV Carsharing Pilot Project (Senator Kevin de Leon, District 24. L.A. Selected to Debut Electric Vehicle Car-Sharing Project. Web. 12 July 2016).













To extend the environmental and mobility benefits to its target neighborhoods, the Pilot Project aims to recruit 7,000 low-income residents during its Phase One. However, carshare services and EVs are both traditionally associated with middle to upper-middle class individuals. Consequently, the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative (LASC) commissioned my co-author (Rachel Huguet) and me to explore ways in which the Pilot Project can become an integral part of communities that have little to no experience with carsharing or EVs.

I conducted research guided by the question, “Based on carsharing models around the country that service low-income demographics, what pricing structure development and parking-selection strategies can the Pilot Project use to maximize the accessibility and reliability of the service in the target areas?” To help answer this question, I analyzed carshare models with a sustainability/environmental mission specifically dedicated to reducing the cost of carshare for low-income residents (Ithaca Carshare, CarShare Vermont, eGo Carshare, and Buffalo Carshare).

LASC and the Shared Use Mobility Center facilitated expert interviews with representatives from the carshare models, as well as with policy analysts working on advancing sustainable transportation projects in disadvantaged California communities. The interview and literature research findings indicate that in order to maximize the Pilot Project’s accessibility and reliability, it is imperative to:

  • Develop a tiered pricing structure that offers lower rates to qualifying members through specified programs that are funded by grants and promoted through partnerships with social services agencies and organizations; and
  • Select carshare-dedicated parking strategically to include maximum proximity to affordable housing in dense neighborhoods, transit hubs, hospitals, employment services as well as educational and recreational centers. The Westlake-MacArthur Park area and its Metro transit hub station are prime areas to be considered for the Pilot Project’s dedicated parking.

Strong State and local political will is driving projects focused on equitable and sustainable modes of transportation. Senate bill (SB) 1275 (the Charge Ahead Initiative) aims to put one million EVs on the roads of California by the year 2023 and include disadvantaged communities by supporting EV carsharing pilot projects throughout the State. SB 1275 works to ensure that these communities receive the infrastructure and exposure necessary to create an inclusive EV market. The Pilot Project is also aligned with the L.A.’s Sustainable City pLAn and will help the install 110 of the 1,000 EV charging stations needed in the City by the year 2017. With the success of the Pilot Project, L.A. can set the example for other major cities to follow.

The full report on this project can be found here.