Street Parking as Car Share Incentive

SFMTA is allowing three car share services: Zip, Get Around and the non-profit CityCar Share to receive designated access to up 450 street and city garage parking spaces in order to promote car sharing as an alternative to auto ownership.
April 11, 2014, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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The two-year pilot project was approved last year by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) but they had yet "to solicit interested companies and negotiate which parking spaces would be reserved for car-sharing vehicles," writes Michael Cabanatuan. "The MTA recently selected three firms - national car-sharing company Zipcar, Bay Area nonprofit City CarShare and San Francisco's Getaround, which helps people rent out their own cars when they're not using them."

Cabanatuan writes that up to 900 spaces have been reserved, half of which will be available this summer. Chris Roberts of The Examiner writes that each of the car share companies has asked for 150 spaces, or .16% of the total amount of public parking spaces in the city. He writes that the project is part of "a city plan to promote alternatives to private automobiles".

Opening up street parking and SFMTA-owned garages to ZipCar and its ilk could help The City reduce traffic congestion, said SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin, as well as promote “an alternative to car ownership.”

Cabanatuan expounds on another goal of the plan - to bring car share to the city's outer, less affluent and dense neighborhoods where car share's traditional clientelle, "younger residents or people committed to living a relatively car-free existence" may not reside.

Car share fits in well with a city that is adding population but intentionally not adding parking spaces to accomodate the growth. Jay Primus, manager of SFpark, a division of MTA, explains.

"The challenge for the MTA and the car-sharing companies is to get awareness of the benefits of car sharing. Academic research shows that every shared vehicle takes 10 private vehicles off the road."

Not mentioned in either article is that the practice of reserving on-street parking spaces for car share services is common in the industry, as we noted two years ago. Car2Go stated it would be a requirement in order to provide its service to San Francisco residents. VentureBeat expressed their displeasure last year that it wouldn't be expanding there.

The car share companies will pay up to $225 to reserve each space monthly, depending on the location. Of the 437 spaces reserved by MTA for car share to date, writes Roberts, 73% are unmetered, so it would appear that the project should provide a positive cash flow to MTA which uses parking meter revenue to subsidize transit services.

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Published on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 in San Francisco Chronicle
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