City Hall

Council Legislation would Expand Car Sharing

Car2go likely to face competition next year.

By Josh Feit November 24, 2014

City Council member Tom Rasmussen introduced legislation this morning to expand the number of so-called "free floating" parking permits for car-sharing companies (like Car2Go) while also putting a number on how many car-sharing operators are eligible for the permits. 

Car2Go, currently the only car-sharing business in town, has used all of its 500 "free floating" permits—which allow Car2Go drivers to park in on-street parking spots without being subject to time limits, meter fees, or neighborhood parking zone restrictions. (The permits don't allow the cars to park in special parking spots, though, such as  taxi zones or commercial loading zones.)

Rasmussen's car-sharing legislation will allow up to four car-sharing companies in the market and will allow each company to get 500 permits (or 750 each if they commit to providing service citywide. Car2Go's area was initially restricted to the city core, but they've expanded, with free parking north to NE 125th St., though only as far south as S. Orcas St. just south of Columbia City.)

The permits will cost $1,703 per car and the fiscal note estimates $2.2 million in city revenue in 2015 and $3.4 million in 2016 with an anticipated 1,300 vehicles permitted next year and 2,000 the year after.  The city doesn't lose any parking revenue because—just as Car2Go did last year—they must provide the city with data on how much parking they used; if it's more than what they initially paid for the permits, they have to make up the difference. (Car2Go paid an additional $183,000 to "true up" last year.)

Car sharing companies that may show up to compete in Seattle are BMW (its car-share business is called DriveNow) and Zipcar, which is looking at tweaking its model to include one-way trips; currently in Seattle, Zipcar only allows round trips. 

The legislation notes:  "WHEREAS, the City is aware that there are multiple additional operators interested in entering the Seattle market and obtaining free-floating car sharing permits, and expanding the number of operators and vehicles allows greater consumer choice..."



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