Hoboken, N.J. has been a parking nightmare for years, ever since yuppies discovered the once-gritty waterfront city -- think Marlon Brando and 'On the Waterfront -- across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
But of all the so-called parking solutions that have been tried over the years, a city-wide program based on the Zipcar model may just finally make a difference.
"Mostly it's like musical chairs," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer in describing how tough it is to find a space.
So Transportation Director Ian Sacs tweaked the Zipcar idea to put the car-sharing program in specially marked on-street parking spaces dedicated for each car.
Called Corner Cars, it will start with 42 cars provided by Hertz in 42 spaces so that at least one space is within a five minute walk of 90% of the city's residents.
A $50 a year membership fee that Hertz would normally charge has been waived for Hoboken residents.
Those who sign up will get an activation card that unlocks the car, which you can use for as little as $5 an hour after making a reservation on-line.
Hoboken Resident Kristen Schoberl, 23, was interested.
She now keeps her car with her parents, after being booted in Hoboken.
"With the tickets I'd say a little bit over 400 (dollars)," she said it had cost her in order to get the boot taken off.
Of course, the cynic might say that dedicating 42 spaces to this loaner program would mean 42 open spaces for anyone to use once the Hertz cars were actually in use.
"The Hoboken Parking Utility is pretty efficient," said Transportation and Parking Director Sacs who explained that they are marked as towaway zones for all but the Hertz Corner Cars program and thus will be strictly enforced.
If it works, the city hopes to expand from the initial 42 spaces with cars to somewhere between 300 and 500 scattered all over the city, which by its calculations would take thousands of cars off the streets as participants ditch the cars they have now.
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