Over at Portland Transport, there's a great conversation going on about the City of Portland's emerging policy on car-sharing programs - currently FlexCar, and imminently ZipCar.
Apparently, the challenge is that in order for those services to work in densely populated urban areas (where they're most needed) they need to get dedicated parking spaces that would otherwise be metered and available to the public. This removes spaces from public inventory and costs the city parking revenue.
One proposal would be to limit the number of spaces and charge these companies for the lost revenue. But, on the other hand:
Capping spaces in metered zones is self-defeating. These are the zones that have the most intensity of activity and therefore the most opportunity for carsharing. And they are the zones that can benefit most. One study shows that a carsharing vehicle avoids many (up to 15) individually owned vehicles. Also, we are likely to see more metered zones in Portland, as Commissioner Adams pushes neighborhood business districts to look at metering. If we ever get consensus on a parking plan in NW Portland, I think Flexcar would instantly be over its limit.
And full cost recovery ignores the collective benefits of these programs. Sure, they're private for-profit companies. But carsharing members are less likely to own (and drive) private autos and generally make more use of transit. And as I said before, in areas of constrained parking supply like NW Portland, they help reduce demand for on-street spaces.
Head over to Portland Transport and read the rest by Chris Smith. Discuss over there.
May 11, 2006 | | elsewhere.Posted in