By Aaron Mendelson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco city employees could soon be zipping around the city’s famous hills in car-share vehicles, rather than city-owned cars, under a proposal introduced in the city’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

If approved by the board, San Francisco would join a handful of U.S. cities reducing their fleets of cars in favor of sharing services, including New York, Chicago and Indianapolis.

“Anytime we can reduce our carbon footprint and potentially realize savings as a city, we should pursue those ideas aggressively,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell, who introduced the ordinance along with Supervisor John Avalos.

The ordinance, which could go into effect as soon as December, would require a 25 percent reduction in the city's roughly 1,500-vehicle fleet every three years, leading to the elimination of non-essential vehicles within 12 years. Fire trucks and police cars, among others deemed essential, would be exempted from the plan.

The legislation requires city-owned and leased cars to be equipped with new data-tracking systems to monitor usage. Farrell said that would allow the city to determine which vehicles are underutilized and could be sold first. Public employees would also reserve cars through a new electronic system.

To implement the new law, the city would enter into a contract with an existing car-share company, such as Zipcar or City Car Share, Farrell's aide Jess Montejano said. The provider would be required to give the city priority over other members in emergencies, such as earthquakes.

Chicago’s program, which is contracted to Zipcar, is a model for the San Francisco plan. Farrell's office said in a news release that Zipcar vehicles save Chicago 25 cents per mile compared with the city-managed cars.

Zipcar and City Car Share did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The car rental company Avis bought Zipcar in 2013 for about $500 million. The non-profit City Car Share is based in downtown San Francisco and operates in the Bay Area.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will vote on the ordinance in October at the earliest. If it passes, the plan could take effect as soon as December or January, Farrell said.


(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Mohammad Zargham)