Flexcar soon to double its fleet to 400

Flexcar soon to double its fleet to 400 »Play Video
SEATTLE - The city's car-sharing program, Flexcar, is doubling its fleet as the idea of car sharing appears to be catching on among locals.

Flexcar allows locals to rent cars by the hour. The program started on Capitol Hill seven years ago with four cars. Soon, there will be 400 scattered throughout the greater Seattle area. Some of the cars are brand new and in great shape.

"I do have visions of sometime of going out on a hot date and doing the convertible thing," said one local, Derek Hanson. He's a student who doesn't own a car, but needs one for just a few hours a week.

"I usually take one that is closest to my house," he said.

Flexcar uses pay a simple hourly rate ranging from $7 to $12 an hour.

"And that includes gas, insurance, cleaning, maintenance, free parking from any flex car location so it's all inclusive," said Jamie Cheney, the general manager of Flexcar.

You can reserve a car by phone or on line.

A member like Hanson can simply flash a master key card over an electronic reader in the car. The car then knows it's his turn to rent and unlocks the door. Hanson then gets the key out of the glove box and gets on his way.

"The main reason I really feel passionately about reducing congestion and not car, not be so depended on cars."

Flexcar cites a study that says a shared car removes 15 private cars off the road. That's music to King County executive and mass-transit cheerleader, Ron Sims.

"It's important to link up with what we call that Flexcar, that unique time when you're going to need a car particularly if you are a public transportation user," he said.

An average flexcar user spends $85 a month. The cost of owning and operating an average car is $700 a month, according to Flexcar.

Convenience has its price, but with new technology, Flexcar wants to make car sharing as convenient as walking into your own garage.

The cost to join is $35, and each member must undergo a DMV background check.