City approves bringing car sharing to the streets
The City Council on Friday signed off on a two-year pilot program that will allow several car sharing companies to leave vehicles at on-street parking spots.
City leaders hope that boosting the number of vehicles and bringing them out in the open -- shared cars now live in private ramps -- will convince city residents to ditch their own rides.
Transportation committee chair Sandy Colvin Roy said the expanded car sharing could begin this summer.
The original plan granted the on-street spots exclusively to German company Car2Go, which specializes in two-seat Smart Cars. Customers of local car sharing company HourCar, which has been seeking the same privilege for years, hammered city leaders on social media for shutting out the company from the on-street parking.
The grassroots campaign paid off. On Friday, Council Members Robert Lilligren and Betsy Hodges amended the pilot program to include multiple vendors. The other companies that had expressed interest were Hertz on Demand and Zipcar.
The companies have different models. Customers of Car2Go, for example, will likely be able to leave the cars in whichever on-street spot they wish -- allowing for more one-way usage. HourCar, on the other hand, will likely have specific spots designated around the city.
Colvin Roy said the companies will reimburse the city for use of the right of way, which will offset lost parking revenue. The details of that must be determined in the final contracts.
HourCar, which uses primarily Priuses, may expand to 70 cars. Car2Go, which does not currently have a Minneapolis operation, is proposing a fleet of 250 cars.
"This is a really huge innovation," said Mayor R.T. Rybak, who noted several cities that are outpacing Minneapolis on car sharing. "They're doing it at a scale that will work for this city. They're doing it at a scale that you know with a relative amount of certainly that another car will be there."
Car2Go charges a one-time sign up fee of $35 and $.38 per minute for the car rental. HourCar has several plans. Their "Freedom plan" costs $5 a month and $8 an hour for the car rental.
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