Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced that during the first year of the County’s car sharing program it downsized its vehicle fleet, cut mileage reimbursement and salvaged older vehicles. The measures saved the county roughly $250,000.
Overall, savings were generated by employees using Zipcars and the County’s Shared Fleet of existing vehicles. Previously most of the County’s passenger vehicles were assigned to various departments, which were not being used to maximum efficiency. In other cases, County employees used their own cars on official business and filed expense claims for reimbursement.
The County reduced its fleet by 10 vehicles, saving the cost of fuel, maintenance and insurance it would have incurred. Those vehicles were sold for salvage value and substantial savings were achieved by not purchasing replacements. Countywide auto-related reimbursement to employees also declined, a portion of which can be attributed to the car sharing program.
“The first-year results have been promising as hundreds employees signed up for car sharing programs, used our existing vehicles more efficiently or weaned themselves from the habit of driving personal vehicles on County business,” Preckwinkle said. “We plan to add vehicles to the fleet and evaluate whether we can mothball older vehicles that have passed their useful lives. We also plan to encourage more employees to join these programs so we can continue to cut costs.”
The County’s car sharing program provides employees with two options. The Shared Fleet – composed of County-owned cars which are located in a Loop garage, at the Juvenile Detention Center and at the Department of Corrections – allows employees to make reservations for longer trips related to official business. A contract with Zipcars – composed of privately owned fuel-efficient vehicles located throughout Cook County – allows employees to reserve vehicles for short-term trips.
The Shared Fleet has 17 vehicles available for County employees who work in 27 different departments. Almost 1,900 reservations were made for Shared Fleet vehicles in the past 12 months, while nearly 500 Zipcars were reserved. Roughly 400 County employees are signed up to use Shared Fleet vehicle and about 200 are enrolled with Zipcar.
“Our Shared Fleet vehicles were driven nearly 30,000 miles last year,” Preckwinkle said. “Through our Vehicle Steering Committee, we continue to look for ways to expand and improve the program. In line with our focus on sustainability and cost-efficiency, we plan to buy three hybrid and two electric vehicles for the Shared Fleet this year to replace older vehicles which we will retire.”
County employees reserve Shared Fleet vehicles and Zipcars online and access them with swipe cards. The County uses technology to track how often the vehicles are driven, where they are going and where Shared Fleet vehicles need to be moved to meet employee needs.