Robin Chase, founder and former CEO of Zipcar, recently posted a response to the question of how cities can and should encourage the growth of carsharing. Carsharing US reprinted the information; we, at cityhop have edited the highlights relevant to NZ.
1.Parking. Parking ranks right up there as one of the largest variable costs. Robin suggests, “Offer up some parking spaces (municipal lots or on-street) for one year agreements to whichever car-sharing company wishes to bid on them. In the early years, you will likely have only one company bidding, and their bid will be close to zero $/month. As the business gets more established, and as competition enters the market, the value for specific parking spaces to specific companies will rise: the city will enjoy the additional revenue, and more than one company can compete in specific locations (especially if you can offer up more than one space in a location). This seems like the most fair way to both nurture a budding industry, as well as accommodate success and competition.
2. Marketing. “This is very very dear to both starting and existing companies. The city has lots of resources to get the word out to residents at very low cost. Providing this ability, whether the area has one or many competing companies is critical, and keeps the costs of providing the service down. For example, on bus, train adverts, or information mailed out to residents that renew vehicle registrations.”
By telling your residents about car share you are actually telling them about the choices that exist for them to not own a car. Councils should be encouraging this – it means they will have to build fewer roads, car park infrastructure and so on. Enlightened councils around the world get this and see their participation in car share as good for their city, their planning, their community and their residents.
Again, please make sure to offer this service if there is only one company, and quickly accommodate the addition of other competitors as they arise.
3. Taxing, Parking Permits. Remember car share is like a taxi stand or bus stop, or even a loading zone. It is a service to encourage people not to own a car and then have to find a park for it in on already congested streets. Make is easy for people to find car share. In resident permit parking only areas having a car share space may encourage locals to give up their car and their parking space.
4. Geographic carve-outs. Don’t make decisions district by district, carsharing does best when it can scale. And users stand to gain from a large network (i.e. a member can pick up a car from both work or home, without having to join two companies).
Feel free to share this information with your newly elected representative. This new Auckland Council and the new Green mayor of Wellington City are all talking about initiatives to make our cities liveable. Take a leaf out of leading international cities and support car sharing! Shortly we will load some stories on what Sydney is doing to encourage car share.