Encouraging people to use public transportation by giving them free access to cars may seem counterintuitive, but Austin is doing just that. Last fall, the city partnered with Daimler to launch Car2go, the nation's largest car-sharing initiative. The program lets city workers tap a free network of 200 smart cars and designated parking spaces for work errands — and pay by the minute to check a car out for personal use. In the first four months, demand was triple original estimates, and more than 1,000 employees climbed into the (shared) driver's seat.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.