Demand for car sharing in Los Angeles zips along; parking, finances a little stalled

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A test car sharing program at USC and UCLA is off to a strong start four months into its existence. A report to Los Angeles city councilmen about the program also identifies some problems.

The city of L.A.'s transportation department and Zipcar are running a joint one year pilot project. L.A. has set aside parking places near two college campuses for car sharing. The private company rents cars to members for short periods of time.

Zipcar's done this in other cities and set, with the city, goals for how often the cars would get used. A few days ago the transportation department, with information from the company, reported to a city council committee on the first three months. In November, Zipcars were zipping around city streets three times as often as expected near USC and a little more than twice as often as they planned for at UCLA.

One problem so far is parking. With spaces scarce in those areas, Zipcars sometimes get shut out of the spaces they're supposed to have saved for them when the public parks illegally.

The city reports that it's stepping up enforcement and booting more cars. But it's not making more plans – yet – for more car sharing parking spaces.