Friday, May 05, 2006

Philly Car Share Honored

This arrived in my inbox this week (hat tip Jeff):

PhillyCarShare and City of Philadelphia Named Finalists for Harvard "Oscar”

Compete for Prestigious $100K Prize

Philadelphia, PA – PhillyCarShare’s groundbreaking car-reduction initiative with the City of Philadelphia is among 18 pioneering Finalists for Harvard’s prestigious Innovations in American Government Award, the “Oscar” of American government. More than 1,000 forward-thinking programs from across the country submitted applications to compete for the seven final $100,000 prizes.

PhillyCarShare’s project is among “the best and brightest, and represents government’s great capacity for creating positive change and achieving results,” says Gowher Rizvi, Director of Harvard’s Ash Institute. The project “takes a creative approach to a significant problem and demonstrates that [the] solution works.”

PhillyCarShare and the City of Philadelphia teamed in 2004 to create the first system worldwide in which government employees and local residents would share vehicles by the hour in a major car-reduction effort. Advanced technology facilitates easy independent access to vehicles 24/7, automated cost allocation, and unprecedented superb accountability.

The pioneering project has leveraged the City’s elimination of 330 vehicles, saving taxpayers nearly $2 million annually. Philadelphia residents have sold or avoided purchasing another 1,500 vehicles through the program. They drive 9.9 million fewer miles per year; walk, bike, and take transit 37% more; and save about $6 million annually versus owning cars, according to detailed participant surveys. All participants pollute 90% less while driving PhillyCarShare’s hybrid gas-electric vehicles.

The prize money is awarded specifically to support winning programs in the teaching of their model to other jurisdictions. “By celebrating and disseminating this kind of creative thinking at all levels of government, the awards program helps turn innovative ideas into commonly accepted practices,” said Patricia McGinnis, President of the Council for Excellence in Government.

Stephen Goldsmith, Director of the Innovations in American Government Awards at the Ash Institute says, “When you learn about the variety of programs, the range of problems they tackle, and the creative ways they do it, it gives you a renewed confidence in the quality and commitment of our public servants. By shining a bright light on these innovators, we hope to encourage others in government to follow their amazing lead.”

Winners will be selected later this month following presentations they will make to the National Selection Committee at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government on May 25, 2006. The seven final winners will be announced on July 10 at a dinner ceremony in Washington, D.C., during the 2006 Excellence in Government Conference.

PhillyCarShare, a non-profit organization founded in 2002 by five local Philadelphians, operates a rapidly growing fleet of hybrids, wagons, and fun vehicle models from 40+ locations in central Philadelphia and Mt. Airy. Each member receives a personal key and 24-hour access to the entire fleet. Then driving is easy: reserve online, hop in, and go! Affordable hourly and mileage rates cover gas, premium insurance, and reserved parking. Members enjoy the convenience of driving, without the hassles of ownership.

The Innovations in American Government Awards, founded in 1986, is a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The award is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government in Washington.

The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government fosters excellence in government around the world in order to generate and strengthen democracy. Through its awards program, research, publications, curriculum support, and global network, the Institute champions critical milestones in creative and effective governance and democratic

The Council for Excellence in Government is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to improve government performance by strengthening results-oriented management and creative leadership in the public sector, and to build understanding by focusing public discussion on government’s role and responsibilities.

For more information on the Innovations in American Government program and this year’s finalists, please visit or

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