Kansas City leaders unveil new ride-sharing service aimed to provide wheels for downtown residents

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One driver's convenience is another's confusion.

Owning a car can be a pain for people who live in downtown Kansas City, but now, there's a new option to get non-car owners on the road.

Downtown apartment dwellers complain there's no place to park affordably. That's one reason many of them pass on car ownership. City leaders lifted the veil on Zipcar on Monday afternoon, which is a new car-sharing service meant to rent wheels to urban dwellers.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James was among the municipal leaders trying the new Zipcars on for size, establishing hope that the car-sharing mobile app will open new avenues to Kansas Citians.

“Owning a car in urban settings is kind of a pain,” Kara Wysong, a Midtown resident, told FOX 4 News.

Wysong explains the reason many urbanites choose not to own cars. For a monthly fee, Zipcar offers its members access to rental cars, which can be used up to 180 miles per pop. The service was founded in 2000, and since then, has spread worldwide, claiming one million customers and 12,000 vehicles in nine countries.

“We're providing additional mobility options to residents, businesses, visitors and students,” Mayor James said.

City councilman Jermaine Reed lived in Washington D.C. after graduating from the University of Missouri 10 years ago, and says he saw urban dwellers using Zipcar for short rides like buying groceries.

“It's good to see Zipcar here in Kansas City, and to get people out of their cars and not have to worry about the maintenance of a vehicle if they don't have a car,” Reed said.

Wysong has taken a similar path as Reed’s. Coincidentally, she also lived in D.C. for some time, but now makes her metro home in the midtown area.

“If you live in the city, there's not really a reason to own a car,” Wysong said.

“The wear and tear on the car is tremendous. If you need to go somewhere outside the city, target or Wal-Mart, which is about 20 minutes out, owning a car for that is no good.”

City officials point to Zipcar, as well as Kansas City's growing streetcar line, as new transportation offerings. Mayor James says they're meant to provide easy ways to get in and get around downtown, building business as they go.

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