Oak Park decides to go with I-Go
Oak Park, 12/17/12--Public Works Director John Wielebnicki stands beside one of the I-GO cars parked in the village parking lot. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:21AM
OAK PARK — Several years ago, Oak Park Village Trustee Ray Johnson was reading a government trade journal when he came across an article about how the city of Philadelphia, Pa., was saving money on the fleet of cars used by its employees.
“They were using I-Go cars and Zip Cars, another company like it, for their municipal employees,” he said. The advantages of using a car-sharing service are reduced maintenance, insurance and fuel costs, each of which is absorbed into the monthly fee for using an I-Go car.
Always looking for cost savings for the village he represents, Johnson brought the idea of replacing some of Oak Park’s fleet with an I-Go contract.
At the time, the idea wasn’t cost-effective because the vehicles owned by the village could last many more years, and many vehicles were underused. Another obstacle has been the desire of village officials that the I-Go vehicles assigned to the village be electric; that would require installing a refueling station.
But starting in 2013, the village is expected to enter into a contract with I-Go in a pilot program to determine whether using the car-sharing program would be more cost-effective than replacement as fleet cars go out of service.
Johnson stressed his hope is to replace most, but not all, of the village fleet cars.
“There is value in the village owning vehicles because you do need the flexibility,” he said. “I think we will always need some fleet of cars, but it won’t need to be the extent we need today.”
Chicago-based I-Go actively encourages businesses to look to them for their fleet needs, offering three custom rate plans. The company also is able to install its reservation software into fleet vehicles owned by customers.
Though she was unable to pinpoint even an estimate, Sharon Fegon, CEO of I-Go, said depending on the type of car and how often it’s used, the village could save a great deal of money on its fleet costs by using her company’s service.
“We have fleet relationships with companies where we not only provide our cars for business use so it reduces their expenses but it also increases their accountability,” she said. That’s because I-Go’s reservation system requires users to show who is using the vehicle and for what purpose.
Though I-Go can provide dedicated vehicles, Fegon recommends municipalities share their vehicles with residents in the evenings and on weekends.
“Then what you have is true community sharing,” she said. “A car purchased by Oak Park is a community car anyway since it’s purchased with taxpayer funds.”
Oak Park Public Works Director John Wielebnicki maintains the 200 cars and trucks that make up the village fleet.
“At some point, we are going to replace those vehicles, and this is our first step in seeing how well I-Go will work -- how it will work for us in terms of logistics, and how it will work for us in terms of expenses,” he said. “It’s just been guesswork right now. That’s why we need to see from experience how this will work for us.”