This is a brilliant idea that's directly analogous to time-share condos: car sharing. Just like time-share owners don't need a condo in Aspen 52 weeks a year, many people don't need a car every hour of every day. People who have to commute to work by car can carpool, but what about others who only need a car once or twice a week to go to the store, or one weekend a month for trips? Owning your own car can be convenient, but every second it sits idle, unused, is a waste of your money. Car sharing is intended to reduce that idle time, reduce the number of cars per capita, and thereby reduce the cost of car use for suitable travelers.

Marc Bovee is committed to not using his car -- and that's quite a commitment in wheels-crazy Los Angeles.

Bovee's Jeep Wrangler has been garaged since August 2005, in part because he uses a vehicle-sharing service called Flexcar.

Whenever the bus or subway won't get him where he needs to go, Bovee, 43, visits the Flexcar Web site to find and reserve cars, which are parked in designated lots and garages around L.A. Once he arrives at his chosen vehicle -- often a hybrid, although sometimes just a fuel-efficient Honda Civic -- Bovee opens the door by placing his membership card over a reader installed on the windshield. He gets the keys from the glove compartment and drives off, returning the car when he's done buying groceries, running errands or taking a weekend trip. ...

Flexcar, which is based in Seattle, says its average member spends $80 a month on the service, a far cry from the typical $863 monthly cost of maintaining a midsize car in Los Angeles.

Such a commercial operation is not a great option for suburbanites who don't have mass transit available and a high enough population density to make car sharing profitable, but non-profit cooperatives like Dancing Rabbit might be viable alternatives for friendly neighborhoods.

Yet another new economic model made vastly more practical by internet technology.



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