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Car Share Parking Attracts an Unlikely Foe in San Francisco

Thursday, February 21, 2013

(photo by Guerilla Features/Jason Tester via flickr)

(San Francisco -- KALW) San Francisco's Board of Supervisors recently passed an ordinance to allow residential developers to add more parking spots to their new apartment buildings–- if those spots are dedicated for car-share programs.

The city considers itself a national leader in car share, and in 2011 it began reserving on-street parking for area nonprofit City CarShare.

So it wasn't a surprise when the ordinance, which was proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, passed unanimously. What surprised some was the opposition to it.

In a letter, Sierra Club secretary Sue Vaughan said the plan "will add to overall congestion and negatively impact the flow of transit and air quality.”

The Sierra Club says building more parking spaces -- even for car share -- violates the city’s Transit First policy. That's a 1973 initiative that puts public transit investment as the city’s top transportation priority, and is designed to discourage private automobile traffic.

Apartment parking is hot commodity in San Francisco– under the current rules, developers can only build one space per unit. But for many San Franciscans, that’s not enough. A quick search on Craigslist shows people renting their coveted spots upwards of $300 a month.

Now, the city is considering reducing that amount: a recent development on Market and Castro was allowed just one half of a parking spot per unit. The idea behind the restriction is to get people out of cars and into other methods of transportation, like Muni or biking.

Before the new ordinance, car-share spots counted toward the development’s maximum. For example, the planned building on Market and Castro has 24 units, so that means 12 parking spaces. If the developer wanted to add a car-share spot, it would have to be included in that 12. Under the new ordinance, they could add between two to five spots designated for car-share only, in addition to the 12.

Instead of making new parking spots for car-share programs, The Sierra Club suggested converting existing street parking spots. But Supervisor Wiener’s office countered by offering studies that show each new car share vehicle replaces between eight and ten private cars. In fact, a UC Berkeley study found that after signing up with a car-sharing program, almost half of households with a car got rid of their vehicle.

The San Francisco Supervisors hope that developers will take advantage of these new car-share spots. So do the city’s car-share members, who are seeing their usual spots at gas stations and open-air lots disappear as they get converted into buildings and other uses.

This isn't the first time the Sierra Club has taken a counterintuitive position. Last summer, the group opposed a regional transportation referendum in the Atlanta area that would have generated $3 billion in transit funding. The Sierra Club said that proposal didn't go far enough.  The referendum didn't get the majority it needed to pass.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Boston T Sets Ridership Record, Auto Sales Up, San Francisco Embraces Car Sharing

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Top stories on TN:

See who is lobbying and donating to influential members of Congress. (Link)

California's high-speed rail costs soar, but proponents say there's 'no choice' but to build. (Link)

The Senate approved an austere transportation spending bill (link), as well as $15 million for a trans-Hudson tunnel with an uncertain future (link).

Boston T (photo by Michael Kappel via Flickr)

Boston's T set a ridership record. (Boston Globe)

Car sales are up for the big three -- as well as most foreign automakers. (Detroit Free Press)

Congressman John Mica said the federal government will honor its $300 million commitment to the Second Avenue Subway. (DNA Info, Second Avenue Sagas)

And: Mica is meeting with Wall Street investors today to talk about investing in high-speed rail on the Northeast Corridor. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

TN's Andrea Bernstein talks infrastructure and jobs bill on The Takeaway.

Florida Governor Rick Scott experiences schadenfreude over new estimates for the cost of California's high-speed rail program. (The Hill)

NYC is rethinking putting neon stickers on cars that violate alternate side parking rules. (Wall Street Journal)

The head of the NJ DOT says the ARC tunnel was flawed from the start. (Asbury Park Press)

San Francisco is ground zero for the car-sharing movement. (USA Today)

From water bottle to bridge: one company is making infrastructure out of recycled plastic. (Fast Company)

And: Beethoven Awareness Month even affects skateboarders! Vide0 here.

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Transportation Nation

Daimler's Car2Go Car Share Company Plans Two-Continent Expansion

Monday, October 24, 2011

As we reported last week, car makers are warming to car sharing. Daimler is leading the pack by actively making a business out of it.  The European auto giant is aggressively expanding car2go, its car sharing subsidiary that uses exclusively one make of vehicle, Daimler's Smart cars.

Until very recently, car2go has remained small and stable in just four cities -- one each in the U.S. and Canada, and two in Europe. Daimler now says it plans to expand to 40 to 50 cities in Europe and several new U.S. locations based on the successful Austin, Texas pilot program.

Car2go will launch in San Diego next week, and just a few days ago, Daimler announced a a partnership with a European car rental car company to reach 40 to 50 cities. The companies did not set a timeline for the expansion in the release.

The one-way car sharing company works a little differently than its more well known rivals like ZipCar. Created in 2008, Daimler it has 1,100 vehicles in the four programs nationwide. By comparison, ZipCar has 2,100 vehicles just in the New York City area alone.

Under the U.S. plan in Austin, drivers can pick up and leave a car anywhere within the downtown area, not just the spot they started from. This, Daimler says, allows the cars to supplement public transportation. Drivers are charged by the minute or the mile, and can reserve a car by the phone or locate one using a map on the company's website.

The San Diego car2go will be a fleet of 300 all-electric cars at launch on November 2.

The European expansion will be the bulk of the company's growth. Daimler is launching a joint venture with rental company Europecar to facilitate expansion.  Car2go is currently in Ulm and Hamburg, Germany. The next cities will be Lyons, France and Amsterdam. Earlier this year, BMW made a similar partnership with Sixt, a rental car company, to start a car sharing business in Berlin and Munich.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Detroit Slashes More Bus Service, Alexandria To Join Capital Bikeshare, NJ Transit Customers Unhappy

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Top stories on TN:

NY's governor is zeroing in on a "surprising" choice to run the MTA. (Link)

A new website maps crashes at NYC intersections. (Link)

An infrastructure bank will likely return as a political weapon. (Link)

GM to bicyclists: We're sorry we offended you. (Link)

Detroit bus (photo by Matt Picio via Flickr)

Detroit has cut a third of its bus service over the last five years; now suburban bus lines are facing "colossal cuts." (Detroit Free Press)

Alexandria's City Council voted unanimously to join Capital Bikeshare. (Washington Post)

NJ Transit customers gave the agency the lowest rating ever for "handling of service disruptions." (The Star-Ledger)

An Amtrak train blew a red signal and crashed into another train in Oakland, injuring 16. (AP via San Francisco Chronicle)

Today's Brian Lehrer Show: car sharing and rental cars. Discuss. (WNYC)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Boise Launches Car Sharing Program

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A street in Boise, Idaho (photo by Televiseus via Flickr)

(Boise, ID - YPR) The ribbon will be cut on downtown Boise's first car sharing program today. It's the third car share program in Idaho -- but the first that's non-campus-based.

Karen Sander, the executive director of the Downtown Boise Association (DBA), says the group became interested in car share after Boise State University started one for its students last fall.

Sander said her organization sees car share as a way to encourage people to ditch their personal vehicles. “The typical pushback for using transit is, ‘What if I need to run an errand on the other end of my commute?’” Sander says the flexibility of car share gives people easy access to a car.

DBA worked in cooperation with Capital City Development Corporation, the city of Boise, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s WeCar Program. Sander says at first the program will start with two vehicles. A press release says Enterprise anticipates more vehicles could be added throughout downtown Boise in the future.

Under the program, WeCar participants will pay an annual $35 fee. There’s an hourly fee to use a vehicle for local trips which includes gasoline, insurance and mileage up to 200 miles a day.

Sander says Boise is like many of its neighboring western states -- car crazy. “I think automobiles rule,” she says. “I think they will for a long time.” But, she says, when gasoline hit the $4 a gallon mark, residents began looking at other transportation options.

“I think people are starting to get smart about how they can save transportation dollars and use them in other areas of their lives,” Sander says. “And if those options are there, they’re going to use them -- [especially] if they’re flexible and they’re accessible.”

She adds that Boise is also an environmentally conscious community, and many residents ride their bicycles to and from downtown. “We’re a bike crazy community. Everyone likes their bicycles,” she says. Because of that, she says the car share sites will have bike lockers.

The car share program has other advantages as well. “It complements urban community sustainability programs reducing local emissions, traffic congestion and parking congestion," says Sander. "I think .. a lot of people look at the cost savings first.  And then folks who are interested in taking care of the environment --  this is one step closer to doing that.”

Sander says the city of Boise is now considering whether to add a bike share program.

 

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Transportation Nation

Car Share Parking Comes to the Streets of San Francisco

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Car Share in San Francisco Photo: City Car-Share

In a city where on-street parking is at a premium, San Francisco city officials and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) yesterday initiated a pilot project to reserve 11 parking spots around the city for for pick-up and drop-off of vehicles in a car sharing program.

“One of these cars gets 15 other cars off the street,” said Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA. “Normally these parking spots are in garages. Making these spots more visible and more available can help reduce dependence on private automobiles, which can get more people on public transit, on their bikes, and walking.”

City CarShare, a Bay Area non-profit started in 2001 that offers cars to members for short-term, hourly or daily rentals, will pay SFTMA $150/month for each on-street space during the pilot phase. That cost is equivalent to the median cost of reserved City CarShare spots currently used in SFMTA parking garages.

The non-metered, on-street spaces are located throughout the city, in neighborhoods infamous for challenging on-street parking. Two spaces are in the heart of busy commercial districts in the Mission and Lower Pacific Heights, and several more are in the densely populated neighborhoods of Russian Hill and the Inner Sunset.  Other spots include central locations in mixed use neighborhoods of Glen Park, Dogpatch, the Bayview, and the Outer Sunset.

Locations in the pilot project were chosen in consultation with SF City Administrator’s Office, SF City Supervisors, neighborhood merchants’ associations, and community organizations, according to SFMTA.

The visibility of the new parking spots is important, and, says City CarShare CEO Rick Hutchinson, as are ties to the local economy.

“In addition to all of the important net environmental and social benefits that car sharing has proven to deliver, City CarShare members save hundreds of dollars on car related expenses each month that they can put right back into the local economy by patronizing our merchants,” he said in a statement.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced legislation necessary for making changes to the Transportation Code that allowed the new parking zones to be created.

If all goes well with the six-month pilot, SFMTA plans to expand the car sharing parking program citywide.

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Paris Launches Electric Car Share, Warren Buffett Gets Into Urban Redevelopment, Furloughed FAA Employees Get Paid

Monday, October 03, 2011

Top stories on TN:

NJ and the federal government reach a settlement on ARC tunnel money. (Link 1, link 2)

A Bluecar on Paris's Boulevard Sérurier (photo by Portemolitor via Flickr)

Paris launched an electric "bubble car" auto sharing program. Paris transportation head: "It's the same principle as Velib'; you use the car, leave it and that's it. Simple." (Los Angeles Times, The Guardian)

Warren Buffett joined an effort described as "a holistic approach to urban redevelopment." (USA Today)

Forbes magazine: don't bother making transit pretty. "The point of transit is to transport. Money buys movement, and funds are finite."

Furloughed FAA employees will receive back pay for the time they missed. (The Hill)

The Boston Globe interviewed Janette Sadik-Khan: "Change is messy, and change is hard...but it’s really important that we don’t get stuck in an approach that’s 25 years old."

The New York Post looks at who taxi medallion owners  give campaign donations to local politicians, and concludes "they are often getting their money's worth."

New York Times editorial: say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.

DC's Police Complaints Board said that district police need to become better versed in the bike laws they enforce. (Washington Post)

Is the Tysons Corner Metrorail link on schedule or not? Fairfax County says no; the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority says yes. (WAMU)

Countdown clocks come to Chicago bus shelters. (Chicago Tribune)

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Transportation Nation

WEDNESDAY: Personal Car-Sharing on the Takeaway

Thursday, March 31, 2011

http://www.flickr.com/photos/randychiu/3503567616/sizes/m/in/photostream/

When you really think about it, you probably don't use your car all that much.  You drive to work – then leave your car in the lot all day while you’re inside. Or you leave town for a few days – then don’t use your car for the next three weeks. Meanwhile, plenty of other people don’t have cars, but sometimes need them.

Three new companies in the San Francisco Bay Area – Getaround, RelayRides, and Spride Share – are trying to match those idle cars with people who want to drive them. Each model is a little different, but the basic idea is the same: when you’re not using your car, you can rent it out to anyone who needs it. And if you need a car? You can rent anything from your neighbor's station wagon to a brand-new Tesla Roadster.

Transportation Nation's Casey Miner will be on The Takeaway this  morning to talk about personal car-sharing-- listen below! And catch her full story later that day on KALW News.

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Transportation Nation

One-Way Car Sharing to Airports Launches in NYC--Makes Practice More Like Bike Share or Taxi

Monday, November 22, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) New York has been slowly encouraging more and more car sharing, with re-zoning, reserving cars for city use, and promoting extra parking for the collectively used vehicles. All of those initiatives presume you check out a car and return it to the same location. Hertz Connect, the car sharing arm of Hertz rental cars, announced they are launching what they call an industry first: one-way car sharing. You can now check out a car in Manhattan and drop it off at any area airport, paying by the hour for the rental.

That makes checking out a car a lot more like a bike share than a traditional car rental, and, Hertz hopes, it might make the concept competitive with taxis in certain circumstances.

The initial roll out will let drivers rent a Hertz Connect car from one location in Manhattan, West 55th street, and drop it off at LaGuardia, JFK or Newark Liberty airports or vice versa. Soon, Hertz Connect will expand the locations to other classic Hertz rental car posts.

Most bike shares permit, in fact, are designed to encourage one-way rides. Finding an empty slot on a communal bike rack at the end of your trip is the only obstacle to that kind of plan (no small hassle during peak times as Parisians will tell you). Coordinating the space for cars to flow according to the one-way whims of NYC car sharers is a more challenging task.  So to make this work Hertz would have to ensure that they have the space to accommodate drop-offs at enough locations so drivers can count on low hassle at the other end of a car share trip.

Hertz called this an industry first in an email to Transportation Nation even though,  for now, it's just to and from airports. If they are able to harness their significant stock of cars—4oo Hertz Connect cars in the NYC area—and their 175 locations around the NYC metro area this could expand the pool of potentially interested car sharers.

We're looking into the details now, like wait times, drop-off hassle at the airport, and how this compares with alternatives.
Check back for more soon.

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Transportation Nation

Expert: New York City Zoning Regs Won't Really Encourage People to Give Up Private Cars for Car Sharing

Thursday, September 30, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) (Updated)  New York yesterday changed its zoning regulations to clarify that yes, car-share cars can park in private garages. But Dr. Rachel Weinberger, a parking expert at the University of Pennsylvania, says, despite the city's glowing words about car-share, this plan might not really encourage people to give up their cars and use car share instead.  Weinberger's reasoning is this: cities like Toronto and Philadelphia have created incentives for developers to create car-share spots, by allowing them reductions in parking requirements (the requirement they build a certain number of spots for a certain size building.) Some developers really don't want to build extra parking, because of the cost, so allowing them to reduce the space they have to build, she says, is a real incentive to create a car-share spot.

But in New York "there's so much latent demand for parking," Weinberger points out, that there's no incentive to create car share spots over other spots. To encourage car share, she says, you can't just make ZipCars more readily available, you have to make owning a car less convenient.

NY's new resolution will reduce the number of spots for owner-car use somewhat, but not enough, she says, to be a "game-changer."

The change, she said, could "result in more driving, not less," but making it easier to pick up a car-share, but no harder to drive your own.

Got that?
Note:  This post was updated to reflect the fact that Weinberger didn't say the new regs wouldn't make car sharier easier, but rather said it wouldn't discourage private car ownership.

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Transportation Nation

NY Creates More (Potential) Parking for Car Share

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) A number of communities around the country, including Palo Alto, CA and Hoboken, NJ, have created special on-street parking for car shares, often by auctioning off the spots. New York City isn't going that far, but it's getting into the act (or a version thereof) by rewriting its 1961 zoning resolution to allow buildings to provide up to 40 percent of their parking garage spaces to car shares like Zipcar or MintCar. Buildings that are primarily residential can provide up to twenty percent.

The city believes the new zoning resolution -- which it calls a "clarification" of existing regs, which are silent on the issue -- will make it a lot easier for car shares to distribute their cars around the city, thereby encouraging car sharing and discouraging private car ownership.

The city planning commission couldn't exactly explain the maximums concept other than to say they "strike a balance," presumably between promoters of car share and residents who believe they'll have no place to park if more than 20 percent of their garages contained shared cars.

Richard Ull, CEO and Founder of New York-based Mint Cars-on-Demand, says the new regs "can only make my life a lot easier, though he acknowledges "we've never been blocked from a garage." But Ull did say that neighborhoods like Brooklyn's Park Slope, Williamsburg, and Brooklyn Heights are limited more by the lack of garages than by the ability of garages to allocate space to car shares.

The biggest benefit of the new regs, Ull says, is in the "city bringing attention to car sharing."

The resolution passed the City Council with only one negative vote, by Peter Vallone, Jr.

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