City of Calgary transportation committee tries for new policy affecting car sharing across the city

A new policy presented on March 18 by the City of Calgary transportation committee aims to prevent Car2go’s from clustering downtown.

The new strategy will be reviewed by city council later this month. If passed, it will require Car2go to break up vehicle clusters that exceed 25 per cent of a ParkPlus lot or a city parking space.

If left longer than the allotted time, the car will be charged up to 25 per cent over the hourly fine, which Car2go will pay.

The regulation also reserves downtown parking spaces for Car2go, and lowers residential parking rates by $150 per car according to city parking strategist Eric McNaughton.

If passed by city council, the new policy could affect 80,000 Calgary Car2go members that the company has signed up since its debut in July 2012.

Car2go location manager Jon Wycoco said that overall they are happy with the policy, but sees the 25 per cent fine as a huge negative factor for those using the car-sharing service.
“It could cause us to limit our vehicles or move vehicles away from the downtown core,” says Wycoco. “We had hoped to remove the clause or have been given a review period.”

The committee heard from members of the community, Car2go representatives, and city parking planners before voting on the new measure.

The committee addressed an email sent by Car2go to its Calgary users on March 17, which resulted in hundreds of emails sent to council members.

The email, which Councilor Evan Wooley called “alarmist” and “inflammatory,” saying that the proposed policy could negatively impact users, possibly increasing membership rates to rise.

Colleen Dunhill- Jones, a Calgary Car2go customer, says that she thinks the new policy needs more research, and that the clustering of the cars is not as widespread as the policy suggests.

“I think because they are so visible there is a mistaken belief that they take up disproportionately high number of spots. The reality is if the Car2go drivers were not using Car2go, they would useCar2go location manager Jon Wycoco says Car2go’s data shows clustering every month.

Photo by Stefan Strangman be using other vehicles to park there,” Jones says. “I own three vehicles but choose to use Car2Go for driving downtown precisely because they tie up parking sports for a much shorter duration of time than would be the case if I parked one of my private vehicles downtown”.

This sentiment is echoed by Jon Wycoco, who says that Car2go’s taking up excessive space due to the fast turnaround rate of users downtown.

“This phenomena spoken of is a rare occurrence, that if it does happen, it happens on such a short time frame because the way our vehicles move are so dynamic,” says Wycoco.

After a presentation on the policy, Councillor Wolley said that flooding of Car2gos downtown is a real issue faced by the city, and it is hard to see positives or negatives presented by the data.

“Car2go’s data shows that we’ve seen every month that clustering occurs,” says Wooley.”It’s not a perception thing, it’s actually happening. We just don’t know yet whether it’s a bad thing or a good thing.”

sstrangman@cjournal.ca 
To contact the editors responsible for this story; Jordan Kroschinsky at jkroschinsky@cjournal.ca; Evan Manconi at emanconi@cjournal.ca.