The Rome city council, the city's public transport company, ATAC and Legambiente, the environmental association, have introduced a new car-sharing scheme aimed at reducing the number of vehicles on the city's roads.

The scheme is very simple. To participate you must pay

a 100 registration fee and an annual fee of 100 (74 if the participant holds an annual bus ticket). So far 200 people have signed on but now no more registrations are being accepted until the trial scheme has run for a year.

Sharers are issued with a smartcard and when they require

a car it must be booked in advance by telephone for the moment, but internet reservations will soon be possible. When booking the customer will be given a code number to use with the smartcard when collecting the vehicle. The

cars will be available in one of seven places within the III municipality (in the area of Piazza Bologna) and a sharer may use the vehicle for a maximum of four consecutive days at a time.

The pool is made up of 11 Fiat cars: Pandas, Puntos, Multiplas and Duplos.

The price varies according to the model. For a Panda or Punto the price is 1.80 per hour on weekdays, 0.90 per hour on Sundays, holidays and at night from 24.00 07.00, plus 0.30 per km for the first 151 km and 0.20 for every additional km. A Multipla or Duplo costs 2.40 per hour on weekdays and 1.20 per hour on Sundays, holidays and at night, plus 0.40 per km for the first 151 kms and 0.35 for each successive km. The cost includes fuel.

If a car sharer takes a Fiat Panda on Saturday at 07.00 and returns it at the same time on Monday travelling 400 km, the total bill will be 153.60, about the same price as renting from a hire company for the same period.

However the car sharers have a big advantage. The vehicles, which will be taxed and insured, will be allowed to enter all areas of the city only open to permit holders. They will also be allowed to park without paying on the "strisce blu" parking places, be allowed to circulate on days when traffic is banned and be free to drive in the protected bus and taxi lanes. These are already overcrowded areas of the city and it was thought that the city was trying to decrease rather than increase the pressure on these zones.

For information tel. 800201670.

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