AAA leaps into car-sharing with ‘Gig’

Commuters, residents and visitors in Oakland and Berkeley will soon have another alternative in getting around starting at the end of April.

AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah, the roadside assistance and auto insurance company, announced Monday is launching a one-way car-sharing pilot called “Gig” in both cities on April 30.

Unlike a traditional car-sharing service model, members do not have to return the vehicle at a station-based location, according to Mike Hetke, executive vice president and chief innovations officer for AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah.

Hetke described Gig as being positioned in the middle of the traditional car-sharing model and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft:

“It virtually gives you the same convenience of a ride-sharing model where you can walk out your front and a car is available.”

Members of the app-based Gig will be able to park and drop off vehicles for free at any metered, public or residential parking spot with a two-hour or more parking time limit within Oakland and Berkeley, known as the “HomeZone.”

Hetke added:

“It’s more affordable than owning your vehicle as well as more affordable than having to pay for a driver in a traditional ride-sharing model.”

Gig will also have at least two designated parking spots at all BART Oakland and Berkeley stations, and members headed to the Oakland International Airport will be able to park the Gig vehicle inside Park N’ Fly.

Both cities will share 250 Toyota Prius c vehicles with bike racks atop of each vehicle.

Members will be able to take the vehicles outside of Oakland and Berkeley called “stopovers,” but drivers will be responsible for parking fees outside of the HomeZone area.

Hetke said AAA worked with both cities to get “super permits” approved, which allows Gig members to park in most spaces in Oakland and Berkeley.

“It enables the model where that vehicle could literally be on the street right our of your front door.”

Pricing for using a Gig vehicle is $2.50 per mile, $15 per hour and $85 per day. Each trip includes insurance, gas and 250 miles per trip. There is a minimum charge of $2.50. AAA members get a 10 percent discount on standard rates.

Hetke gave credit to both Oakland and Berkeley for being “very progressive” in being the first cities in the San Francisco Bay Area to test out the fairly new car-sharing model.

A UC Berkeley study from the university’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, studied a one-way car-sharing company called car2go, which is available in seven cities in the U.S. and seven other countries.

The study looked at data gathered from nearly 9,200 car2go members from Calgary, San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver and Washington, D.C.

The study estimated car2go took an estimated 28,000 vehicles off the road and reduced parking demand across the five cities. The study also said there was a decrease of 4 to 18 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the cities studied.

While parking is scarce in the Bay Area, Hetke said that the goal of the one-way car-sharing model is that the Gig vehicles are always on the move by its members:

“Consumers move from driving their own car to shared-use model like this, it ultimately alleviates the parking problem in those cities.”

Hetke said Gig is targeting millennials who are more prone to using ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, and that AAA is also looking into the future on how transportation needs will change for its members:

“If you think of AAA, we’ve always been about enabling mobility, and as we look to the future, we see changing member needs and some key mega trends that might change the way consumers use transportation.”

The Gig app is available on both iOS and Android devices. Users do not have to be AAA members to join. Those who sign up before April 30, will receive a $85 credit using the code “HEYGIG,” according to the Gig website.