Best Alternative to Public Transportation

City CarShare

131 Steuart (between Mission and Howard), Suite 205, 995-8588, www.citycarshare.com

Since 2001, City CarShare has been trying to wean Bay Area folks off their dependence on owning a car, and with 4,000 members (up 30 percent from a year ago), it looks like the nonprofit is making headway. Like similar programs in cities such as Portland, Ore., Chicago, and Seattle, City CarShare provides green VW Beetles, Jetta wagons, pickup trucks, and other vehicles for round-the-clock rental -- you can get your auto from one of 40-plus locations (known as "pods") in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. Drivers can make reservations up to the last minute, online or over the phone, and pay only for the hours they reserve. Car sharing benefits occasional drivers, saving maintenance, insurance, and parking headaches, and by reducing the number of cars on the road, it also does its bit for the environment. Members pay a one-time $30 joining fee plus $10 a month; cars cost $4 an hour (or $2 off-peak) and 44 cents per mile, including gas, insurance, and reserved parking.

 
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