Car Sharing round up
Car sharing continues to experience growth, new entrants, and service and amenities options change concomitantly. Here are some recent developments.
Split is a new service that allows for shared or combined rides in a taxi-like service for people traveling in the same direction.
It's not quite car pooling, but allows for multiple users and trips to particular areas to be served in "one trip."
DC is the pilot launch city for the service and currently the service is limited to the city's core-Georgetown University on the west, Capitol Hill on the east, Columbia Heights on the north, and Constitution Avenue as the southernmost point, with expectations that the service area will expand as the user base and demand grows.
Unlike taxis, the service will have designated pick up and drop off points, more like bus service. From the company:
A key component to Split’s technology is the addition of minimal walk time to designated pickup and drop-off points throughout the service area. Riders will walk about a block and are expected to be at their pickup point at the designated time to ensure minimal wait time for drivers and other passengers. Split used DC’s open data to identify points in legal stopping areas, avoiding crosswalks, bike lanes, and other disruptive locations. Clear and expected meeting points reduce wait time and increase safety for riders, drivers and other people on the street.In response to problems with other ride hailing services, the company has rigorous hiring protocols, including in-person interviews and has put strong insurance coverage in place. Because of the shared ride approach, Split will use fewer vehicles--reducing traffic instead of increasing it.
Through a network of Split contracted drivers, specific vehicle types will differ, but will each carry prominently displayed Split branding. That identification, combined with Split’s real-time routing technology and point network, means increased efficiency as riders and drivers can quickly and easily connect.
Also, because each trip involves multiple fares, drivers should make more money compared to the single-ride approach of other services, making the service a stronger income generator for otherwise independent contractors (cf. Emily Guendelsberger's take down of Uber income claims in the Philadelphia City Paper, "I was an undercover Uber driver").
Note that in the old zone pricing system for DC taxis, taxis could pick up additional fares while traveling on a trip. That capability was disallowed when traditional taxi metering was instituted, and this change likely accounted for a fair amount of the loss of income on the part of taxi drivers, plus making the use of taxis as transit less efficient.
It strikes me that they are marketing their program to people who see the car they drive as an extension and reflection of their personality and self-image versus people who see a car as a conveyance, and use car share in terms of utility.
The cost is $12 for the first 30 minutes, and the price per hour is as much as double compared to Zipcar.
Right now the service is in San Francisco, and in 7 cities in Germany, Austria, and the UK (London)--only SF and London are all electric. But because they can't get a master permit for street parking, the cars can only be parked in specific areas. From Automotive News ("How BMW cracked the streets of San Francisco"):
DriveNow allows its cars to be parked on the street in just five neighborhoods of San Francisco, and achieving that took a level of work that would be impractical, and unprofitable, to repeat in every corner of every city across the United States.The neighborhoods are Bernal Heights, Haight-Ashbury, Mission District, Noe Valley, and Potrero Hill/Dogpatch.
The far reaches of San Francisco, and the highly regulated, $3.50-per-hour spots of downtown, are still off-limits except for designated parking lots. The parking rules are too complicated; the risk of a car being towed is too high.
When the system launched in Europe, they used Minis. By contrast, the car used in the US is more upscale, the ActiveE, an electric demonstration vehicle based on the BMW 1 Series of smaller cars. The company is looking to Seattle as its next market.
3. Car2Go, the one-way car sharing service owned by Daimler Benz, featuring SmartCars, and operational in 16 cities across Europe and 15 cities in the US and Canada, is particularly successful in Seattle according to the Seattle Times ("Car2Go expands to cover all of Seattle"). From the article:
Car2Go has added 250 vehicles and stretched its Seattle territory, into the far north and far south areas of the city, the company announced Tuesday.This is significant because I remember Harriet Tregoning, former planning director of DC, chortling in a presentation about how DC had the highest take up rate for Car2Go when it was introduced, and high membership for bike share. The reality is that after early take up for both, membership has hit a plateau.
That brings the total number of petite, white-and-blue vehicles to 750, roaming 83 square miles. About 63,000 people have enrolled in Car2Go here and taken some 2 million trips during two years through the close-in Seattle neighborhoods — the highest use in the U.S., according to Michael Hoitink, location manager for Car2Go Seattle.
Although according to online data presented within the website, DC has 421 car2go vehicles to Seattle's 233.
Car2Go launched in Brooklyn last fall, and as of last month, had 26,000 members, and recently expanded from its original 31-square mile footprint to 36-square miles, covering almost 40% of the borough (Brooklyn is about 97 square miles). See the Brooklyn Daily Eagle story, "Car2go expands its home area in Brooklyn."
4. Zipcar DC loses spaces at Metrorail stations. In DC, Flexcar had the original "franchise" to have cars in Metrorail station parking lots, which helped to spread the acceptance of car sharing in the DC market. They became Zipcar spaces when Flexcar was acquired. But WMATA put out the contract to bid, and Zipcar was outbid by Enterprise Car Share.
5. Ford launches car share in London. The Detroit News reported earlier in the week that Ford launched half electric/half conventional car share, called GoDrive, in London.
It's one way, but each use is combined with parking at the end of the trip, at a designated hub. More like bike share. This is necessary because of the difficulty of finding on-street spaces, and the inability to have a "master use permit" comparable to how car2go or Zipcar work in cities like DC.
Ford is exploring other types of car sharing services in the US, Germany, and India. In Germany, the expanding program is offered in conjunction with car dealerships and in Dearborn, the experiment focuses on Ford employees, who can use different cars according to their trip need and purpose.
6. It's always worth re-mentioning that Hoboken, New Jersey is particularly advanced in utilizing car share as a way to manage demand for scarce on-street parking spaces. See "Cars at Curbside, Available to Share" from the New York Times.
Consideration of car sharing vehicles as a transportation demand management tool as well as a means of support for residents who use cars but don't own them--mostly local policies and practices concerning car storage on public streets privilege car owners--justifies the "use" of "public space" for "private interests" (cf. "With Car2Go, questions on private use of public space," Brooklyn Daily Eagle).