- Alfie Photography/Shutterstock
- Probably easier to park than whatever you're driving.
The Seattle City Council loves car sharing. Without a minute of conflict yesterday, the council’s transportation committee approved a bill expanding these services (through which you pay a membership fee and use a smartphone app to find a car nearby, which you can then rent and ditch at your destination) both numerically and geographically. The full council will vote Tuesday.
It helps that people in Seattle seem to love car sharing, too. Car2go—the only* car-sharing service currently operating in the city—reportedly has more than 59,000 members in Seattle, where it launched in early 2013. As Council Member Tom Rasmussen pointed out, that’s “starting to approach 10 percent of the population. In terms of membership, that’s huge.”
Even bigger: The service is actually decreasing the number of cars on the road. According to officials from the Seattle Department of Transportation, car2go's data shows that 3 to 4 percent of those users say they’ve given up a personal vehicle since they joined car2go. That’s somewhere between 1,770 and 2,360 people who’ve gotten rid of a car and a net decrease of 700 to 1,100 vehicles, according to SDOT.
No wonder city leaders are into it! (While still—we're going to keep reminding you—supporting a massive cars-only project underneath our city.)
To encourage more car-sharing companies to jump in and compete with car2go, the bill will expand the number of those companies allowed in the city from one to four and allow each of them 500 vehicles in 2015—and 250 more once they are serving the entire city. Starting in 2016, it’s up to SDOT to decide how many car-share companies and permits should be allowed.
Car2go pays parking permit fees for each of its cars and under this bill that fee will go up from $200 to $700 a year. One car2go representative voiced concerns about that jump at Tuesday’s meeting, but SDOT says it’s necessary to keep up with the increased cost of managing the permits, which are already in high demand for residential areas.
It’s worth noting car sharing is different from ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber which the council legalized in July. For the full rundown on car2go and one of its primary competitors, check out this extensive piece from Seattle Transit Blog. Wondering who’ll be next in Seattle’s car-sharing game? Keep your eyes on BMW .
*Car2go is the only “free-floating” car-share company in town. Zipcar also has a presence, but since they have fixed parking spots (where you pick up a car and return it), they’re not affected by the council’s vote.