Transportation Nation

Why Do Some Cities Get Car Shares and Others Not? The Answer...

Monday, January 30, 2012

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user davereid2)

Miami Beach has claimed the crown of first Florida city to launch a car sharing program. Hertz On Demand will begin operations there on January 24th. Four universities do already have campus-based car share in Florida. But none are city wide, and Florida is a big state. This raises the question, why has no other city in Florida gotten car share? Even Idaho already has several car share programs. So how do ZipCar, Hertz On Demand, Car2Go or any of the other car sharing startups pick between cities when plotting their exponential expansion?

According to the companies, mass transit is a big factor.

Paula Rivera of Hertz On Demand tells TN, "when entering new markets, Hertz on Demand likes to look at urban areas that have a well defined mass transit infrastructure." She also said that a car sharing company could go into any city, but in an ideal world they want to work in conjunction with the local government, and that can mean the difference when choosing one city over another.

For instance Hertz on Demand was keen to set up in Hoboken, New Jersey because of enthusiasm from the local government which made parking spaces available and facilitated increased visibility. But the company also launched across the river in New York City despite heavy competition. Zipcar already had a government partnership in New York, and their largest fleet of cars for a metro area. Add to that other car share companies targeting specific niches like the smaller Mint Cars on Demand, which courts the business community well. But Hertz ventured into NYC anyway because other conditions are ideal for car share: extensive mass transit, large numbers of non-car owners, and a high hassle factor and costs to car ownership.

In Miami Beach, car sharing will " integrate with other alternative modes of transportation such as transit and bicycle-sharing programs facilitating mobility throughout the city," according to the official announcement (PDF). Hertz On Demand won the right to operate out of municipal garages in a competitive bidding contract and will lease parking spaces at above market rates for private monthly users.

The company said they chose Miami Beach to make their first foray in Florida because of the city's enthusiasm for partnership.

Daimler's Car2Go similarly chose Austin because of a municipal plan to encourage government workers to switch from company cars to the shared electric fleet. It has since begun expanding the model elsewhere.

Boston and San Francisco each have several start-up car share companies testing new business models, in particular peer-to-peer options. Both of those cities are tech hubs and the founders of these companies live there.

Zipcar told Transportation Nation: "Zipcar typically targets large, densely populated markets with access to strong public transportation; and areas where it is hard to find parking and has high costs of car ownership." So, basically, where it's a pain to own a car with lots of people who already go without one. Universities are a major target for growth for the industry leader; Zipcar runs more than 250 campus programs, 36 of them added since Fall 2011 including several in Florida. The poetic spokeswoman added, "It’s also important to note that Zipcar pods grow in clusters, and they are spaced out like strings of pearls." There's never one lone Zipcar, they're always at least in pairs, and then grow from that.


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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

Car-Share Increasing College Campus Presence

Friday, September 09, 2011


(WMFE, Orlando) The short term motor vehicle rental service Zipcar launched its service on the campus of Orlando’s University of Central Florida this week, bringing its national presence on college campuses to 240.

About forty students signed up to use the four-car fleet of hybrids and compact vehicles.  Zipcars are checked out for periods ranging from an hour to up to four days.

Zipcar spokeman Jeremy Lynch says car sharing gives students a way to get off campus, “ We give students the freedom to go the grocery store, the pharmacy, or even Cocoa Beach," Lynch said.  For students not having to mooch a ride off a friend is also a potential perk of using Zipcar.  The UCF campus is located on the far eastern side of Orlando.  It’s surrounded by busy three lane roads with few pedestrian crossings.  Although some local apartments run shuttles to the campus, virtually everything else around UCF is only easily acessible by car.

UCF entrepreneurship and international business major Krystal Wilkinson says even though she has a car she would consider using Zipcar’s service because of savings on gas.  When asked if she thought her fellow university students would be responsible enough to return the cars and in usable condition Wilkinson says “ I think the students would actually look into Zipcar are the responsible students who were attempting to save money.  Students who don’t really care what they’re spending or using wouldn’t look into that.”

Students have to pay a $35 dollar annual fee and are then charged for their usage. A fleet of mobile apps are available for smart phones and allow for reservations 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Zipcar is already operating at several campuses around Florida including the University of Miami, University of Florida, and Florida State University.  Zipcar began working with colleges in 2002, at MIT.   One potential appeal of the Zipcar at UCF’s commuter oriented campus; each Zipcar vehicle gets a reserved parking spot.



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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Minnesota's Transpo Cuts Lessened, NYC Losing Millions in Revenue to Fare-Beating Kids, and Zipcar Has Big Impact on Baltimore

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cuts to Minnesota's transportation bill aren't as bad as originally projected. (Minnesota Public Radio)

Almost half of New York City's subway fare beaters are kids. (New York Daily News)

Seattle drivers might pay $100 more next year to register their cars, with most of that money earmarked for pedestrian, transit, bicycling and neighborhood-safety improvements. (Seattle Times)

Zipcar says it has reduced car ownership and increased public transit use in Baltimore. (Fast Company)

Carmageddon: a photo essay-poem, courtesy of Cute Overload.

How one hamster beat Carmageddon (photo by JDAC via Flickr)

Boston's bike share program -- Hubway-- could come to Cambridge this fall. (Boston Globe)

Wonder how Hubway is going to work? Alta Bicycle Share has a helpful video:


In some NYC neighborhoods, a clean street now means less alternate side parking. (WNYC)

Nissan is raising the price of the battery-powered Leaf and expanding sales to nine more states, mostly in the South. (Detroit Free Press)


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The Takeaway

Car-Sharing Invades the Motor City

Monday, June 13, 2011

WDET Detroit Public Radio

In the state that put the country on wheels, car ownership is as American as apple pie. But there are a growing number of people in Michigan who are giving up their vehicle titles and turning to Zipcar, one of the better known of a growing number of car-sharing services.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: China's (Less) High-Speed Rail, Sleeping Controllers, Carsharing Meets Stock Market

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If you're wondering how all these contentious budget deals are affecting plans -- and money -- for high-speed rail, Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein combed through the reports to find out. (The Takeaway)

China is also putting the brakes on high-speed, but for another reason. China slows down its bullet train over safety concerns. (WSJ)

After a second air traffic controller fell asleep working the lonely night shift, the FAA has announced it will add a second controller overnights at 26 airports, including D.C.'s Reagan National. (WAMU) But are air traffic controllers just plain overworked? (The Takeaway)

ZipCar, the country's largest carsharing company, has gone public, raising more than 31 percent above the expected offering price. (Bloomberg) That's all without the company actually making a profit. Marketplace explains that's not because the model doesn't work, but because buying all those cars to expand to new cities keeps the company in the red.

If it still ruffles your feathers to pay to check a bag while flying, consider that you don't get a refund on that fee when the airlines loose your luggage. Well the DOT wants to change that. (AP) Security pat-downs are also under review. After a You Tube video showed a six-year-old enduring a security pat-down, the TSA is considering changes to the policy. (Denver Post)

IBM and U.C. Berkeley are teaming up, and using smart phones, to tackle traffic jams. (Wired)

If freight trucking is an economic indicator, this isn't the best news. Road freight shipments fell 1.5 percent in February. (TruckingInfo)

(Photo: Asian Development Bank)

The city of Mandaluyong in the Philippines just launched a plan to use electric tricycles as public transportation. It's part of a wider effort to reduce air pollution. (TheCityFix)

The Texas Rangers are suing a former team owner for planning to price gouge fans for parking at the ballpark this season. (Dallas Morning News)

Like many transit systems facing budget cutbacks, D.C. area Metro is considering cutting bus routes, increasing weekend wait times, and eliminating subsidies. It is not considering fare hikes... now. (WAMU)

Maryland has voted down a gas tax increase. They did, however, raised taxes on alcohol. But, the booze surcharge won't go to transportation projects. (WAMU)

And on NYC bike lane usage, Streetsblog takes the same data as the NY Post, but draws the opposite conclusions. People use the bike lanes a lot, they find. (Streetsblog)

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Transportation Nation

Hertz Offers All-Electric Rental Cars

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nissan Leaf

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The fledgling electric vehicle market got a little boost yesterday, when Hertz Connect began renting all-electric cars.

The rental car giant is starting small, with just five Smart Electric Drives in New York City. "That's all we could get our hands on right now," says Rich Broome, a Hertz Senior Vice President. But he says, the company is committed to ramping up to 1,000 electric vehicles nationally—including plug-in hybrids—by the end of 2011. Other cities slated to get the rental EVs are Washington, D.C., San Fransisco and select college campuses.

The move is  good news for EVs, even if it isn't totally new. The first generation of electric cars, like the original electric Toyota Rav4, were available for rent at major rental car companies in the late 1990s before carmakers backtracked on production of the vehicles.  Zipcar currently offers plug-in Toyota Priuses as part of a pilot program in partnership with the city of San Fransisco. Zipcar tells Transportation Nation they've been renting alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids since 2003, and they "welcome Hertz to the space." Zipcar does not offer an all-electric vehicle currently for rent to its members.

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: D.C. Transportation Director Resigns

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

(Washington, D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) Just a few moments ago, Gabe Klein, the director of Washington D.C.'s Transportation Department and a strong advocate of transit and pedestrian-oriented policies, announced his resignation.

Klein was appointed to the post two years ago by Mayor Adrian Fenty, who, earlier this year, was resoundingly defeated in his reelection bid by City Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Klein and Gray had clashed earlier this year over funding for the city's urban streetcar program, so Klein's departure just a few months before the new mayor takes office is not a huge surprise.

Still, Klein enjoyed a fair amount of support for his agenda, which, along with the streetcar project, included the installation of more bike lanes on roads, beefing up the city's local short-trip bus service and, perhaps most successfully, launching a city-wide bike sharing service.

Vehicle sharing seems to be Klein's M.O. Before joining the local government in D.C., Klein was a regional vice president of Zipcar, the pioneering car-sharing company that has taken off in many urban areas.

For more on Klein's resignation, check back in with WAMU throughout the day.

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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

NYC Gov't Moving from Company Cars to Company Carshare, Joins Washington, Philadelphia

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a hopeful pilot program Tuesday to reduce the amount of cars, traffic and pollution caused by municipal employees. Three-hundred City workers will carshare 25 vehicles, mostly housed in downtown Manhattan.

According to a press release, the program will start as a one-year pilot in partnership with the private company Zipcar, but the city is already projecting cost savings four years out at more than $500,000 in reduced fuel,  maintenance, and vehicle purchase costs.

There is solid precedent for that kind of thinking. Washington has a succesful program, as does Philadelphia. In fact, when Philadelphia started their program in 2004, the City was able to sell off 329 vehicles. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg ordered City agencies last year to reduce non-emergency, light-duty vehicles by 10 percent, resulting in the sale of 750 vehicles already, 50 additional cars will be sold as part of the pilot program announced Tuesday.

The New York City program will also use a computer reservation system and restrict the amount of cars available during rush hours to prevent the shared vehicles from being used for, or clogging commutes. After hours, most of the 23 hybrid cars and 2 mid-sized vans, will be open for public reservation.

When Austin launched a similar program with 200 cars in May 2009, initial demand was triple expectations. That program also offered a feature that let city workers check out cars for personal use with a pay-by-the-minute rate to remove the incentive to bring your own car for personal transport and running errands. Oh, and Austin used a fleet Smart cars, easier parking that way, cute too.

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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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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: ZipCar IPO, Motor City by Bike and Riding the Bus with a Broken Foot

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Is car sharing so hot that it can park an IPO on frigid Wall Street? Hello $75 million bucks.  (The Takeaway)

SF Bay Area Congresswoman: foundering Caltrain commuter rail too important to lose.  So give it the SF-San Jose high-speed rail stimulus money?  (SF Chronicle Op-Ed)

South Carolina voters may see transit tax on the ballot in November.  (The State)

Tabloid-y take on New Yorkers facing transit cuts.  “I broke my foot, I can’t take the subway. Instead of an hour and 10-minute commute, my commute will now be two hours.”  (Metro)

Is Detroit becoming a bike mecca?  Life in Motor City without a drivers license.  (Metro Times)  Bike seat conversations, too.

Woman sues Google over walking directions.  (Search Engine Land)

Australian commuters happy to stand on trains for 45 minutes?  Government document also says passengers need just 40cm x 40cm to ride commuter rail -- not much more than the space of a single Herald Sun page, the paper reports.

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The Takeaway

Zipcar to Go Public

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Zipcar, the start-up car sharing company, has filed for a $75 million I.P.O. This comes after a long stretch of companies holding back on going public. New York Times finance reporter, Louise Story responds to whether Zipcar's confidence is a sign of improving economic times.

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