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City CarShare

One look at Bay Area highways at rush hour is enough to make you wonder whether it's worth it to own a car here. Never mind the heinous parking situation in many East Bay 'hoods and, of course, in that big town across the Bay. City CarShare has arrived to deliver us from the expense and frustration of car ownership, while striving toward the laudable goal of reducing pollution. The program has been in place in San Francisco for just over a year, and became available to East Bay residents in January. The process is simple: You sign up and pay a $30 application fee, CarShare checks your driving record and credit, and then you take a short orientation. With a $300 deposit and a $10 monthly administrative fee, you're ready to drive. Each customer receives a key that lets them into a car after they reserve it online or over the phone (the company uses a wireless system to reinitialize each car's door lock once a reservation is confirmed). Cars -- usually the company's signature lime-green Volkswagen Beetles -- are available at four places in Berkeley and Oakland, and additional East Bay locations should be available soon. You pay $3.50 per hour -- with a ten-hour limit -- plus 37 cents per mile for gas.


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