Over the last three years, a growing fleet of blue-and-white Smart cars has hit our roads and transformed the way thousands of Calgarians travel. The phrase, “I’ll just grab a car2go”, has become part of our daily language, and the additional transportation option has made getting around Calgary easier, simpler and cheaper, especially in Ward 8. More than that, car-sharing – a system of car rental where members pay by the minute, can locate and unlock the nearest vehicle by smartphone, and park in over 100 square kilometres of the city – has shown us what the future could be like, and how we can work together to make our city’s transportation network even better.
My wife and I use car2go ourselves, sometimes many times a week, and I love it. So it should come as no surprise that I am a vocal proponent of car-sharing in committee and on Council. My position on this has been affirmed over the last couple days when I received over 500 letters of strong support for car2go. Many of these were from car2go members, but some even came from folks who have never used the service before, but who know why it is so important.
Car-sharing is a big win for our city, but as it grows and becomes more and more part of how we get around, it also presents some challenges. Over the last few weeks I have worked closely with car2go to respond to these, and to enhance the city’s current parking policy, specifically in regards to what is called “clustering” (where large numbers of car-sharing vehicles are packed into busy areas such as downtown in peak periods). In most areas of Calgary’s inner city, car2go vehicles are in strong demand and thus have a high turnover, so this is usually not a problem. But there are some spots where chronic clustering needs to be addressed.
Today, in the City’s Transportation & Transit Committee, we discussed a few changes to the existing policy and decided to forward them to Council. Aside from some minor policy tweaks, the most significant proposed change is that car2go, and any car-sharing operator, will be asked to redistribute “clustered” vehicles during peak periods, which is likely to be in the city centre during the morning rush.
To clear up any confusion, the adjusted policy will not restrict members to only park in certain areas, and nor should availability of vehicles be at all limited by the City. Those of us who use car-sharing services will not be responsible to prevent clustering, and there will be no change to where we can park the vehicles. In fact, if the new policy changes are accepted by Council, the City will discount car-sharing parking fees by 25%. And, as car2go representatives themselves indicated at committee, Calgarians are pretty good at clearing up most clustering themselves, so the City might not even need to step in.
As a regular user of car2go, it is obvious to me, and quite exciting, that car-sharing will play a vital role in the multi-modal transportation network of Calgary’s future. This is why it is so important that we get our policies right, and get them right now, and why we must continue to work together to overcome the various challenges.
If you're interested you can read the proposed policy or visit car2go Calgary and Calgary Carshare. And, as always, if you have any questions please contact my office.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.