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Zipcar an alternative for Atlanta commuters

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

City of Atlanta employees, who commute from Henry and Clayton counties, now have another travel option, thanks to a deal with the world's leading car-sharing service.

The Zipcar company is currently providing alternatives for users of public transportation, to allow those workers to use vehicles during the workday, as needed.

The arrangement, announced recently, is the result of a partnership of the city, Midtown Transportation Solutions and the Downtown Transportation Management Association.

It was made possible by a grant from the Kendeda Foundation, which will cover the $25 application fee for City of Atlanta employees.

Registrants are given access to Zipcars at reduced business rates. Those rates are: $8.25 per hour; $49 from 7 a.m., to 7 p.m.; or $60 for a 24-hour period.

Mandy Schmitt is the director of sustainability for the City of Atlanta. She said the Zipcar program, implemented locally in November, will carry significant benefits for city workers, including those who commute from Henry or Clayton. "Seventy-eight percent of our employees live 20 miles or more from City Hall," said Schmitt. "This program targets those employees. In the past, they couldn't take the bus or train to work [if] they needed to go to the doctor or conduct other personal business during the day."

Along with providing added convenience for those who elect to use Zipcar, proponents of the program are touting the positive implications it will have on the environment.

Brian Carr, communications director for the Clean Air Campaign in Georgia, said the car-sharing service will help commuters to "make better decisions" regarding their means of travel.

"Programs like Zipcar are helping to take away the excuses for people who would be less comfortable going to work without their cars," he said. "Most people don't realize 50 percent of all smog-forming emissions come from the tailpipes of cars. Zipcar acts as a safety net to allow people to get around town, and we applaud the organizations that are using this service."

Approximately 50 city employees have taken advantage of the Zipcar option thus far. Schmitt said additional efforts to sign up participants will be undertaken in January.

For more information, visit www.zipcar.com.