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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds 5.6Transit Agencies Transit agencies across North America are teaming up with car-sharing operators as a means to provide station access, and increase ridership and overall mobility. Most often these transit agencies provide marketing assis- tance or car-sharing parking at rail stations. Transit agencies that provide rail service have often proved the most logical partners for car-sharing operators. However, there are several examples of bus-based agencies as well, notably King County Metro in the Seattle region. Goals and Benefits Two core goals of transit agencies are often to increase ridership and rev- enue. Car-sharing can help achieve both of these, agencies perceive, as well as contribute to broader objectives of reducing automobile use and improv- ing mobility. Some transit agencies focus on car-sharing as a station access strategy, in order to help expand the market for transit, manage customer parking, and bridge the "last mile" between the rail station and a passenger's final destination. For example, Metro North in New York considers that car-shar- ing vehicles at remote stations allow it to tap a market formerly not served. The agency can increase the sale of tickets, because people would formerly have had to rent a car or take a cab to these locations. Instead of using a car to make a 100-mile trip, passengers take Metro North most of the way and complete the trip by car-sharing. Another means to boost ridership is through using car-sharing to increase pass sales. Some agencies see car-sharing as a means to bring about broader changes in travel behavior. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Author- ity (SEPTA), for example, considers car-sharing as an adjunct to public transportation a way for households to purchase fewer cars, rely more on public transportation, and use a car only when needed. "We believe that car-sharing puts people on transit," SEPTA staff says. Car-sharing also fits into the broader "mobility management" function of transit agencies (Murray et al., 1997). Metro North, the Washington Metro- politan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Seattle's King County Metro all view car-sharing within this framework. King County Metro has used its car-sharing partnership to attract private capital to public transportation in order to address urban mobility. As Metro Page 5-29
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Chapter 5 · The Role of Partners staff states: "The amount of money we have brought to the table [for car- sharing] is small compared to the amount of private capital that we have leveraged." Transit passes also have added value since Metro included a car-sharing incentive with the purchase of a FlexPass. Finding a Partner Most commonly a partnership is initiated through the car-sharing operator approaching the transit agency. However, some agencies such as SEPTA and WMATA point out that car-sharing was already on the agenda, meaning that operators found a receptive audience. Some transit agencies, such as King County Metro in the Seattle region and Metro North in New York, have been more proactive in developing the partnership. King County staff had been following car-sharing in Europe, particularly the integration with transit. The agency issued an RFP in Spring 1999, and the program was launched in January 2000. Types of Support Transit agencies provide types of support similar to that provided by lo- cal governments. However, the scope of their involvement is usually less, given that they have fewer functions than cities and counties. Marketing and parking are the main contributions, although some agencies provide other types of support as well. Marketing Transit agencies can provide operators with access to a range of marketing channels. Since transit riders are usually the core market for car-sharing operators (Chapter 3), this can be an effective means of targeting promo- tional efforts. Marketing is mainly provided on transit agency websites and through ad- vertisements and brochures on buses and trains and in stations. WMATA in Washington DC and TriMet in the Portland region are two agencies that provide information about car-sharing and links to providers on their web- sites. WMATA; BART and Muni in the San Francisco Bay Area; and Metro North in New York are examples of agencies that have provided advertis- ing space (Exhibits 5-18 and 5-19). The common message delivered is that car-sharing is a great complement to transit. Website information can be an ongoing activity, while most agencies tend to focus advertising in the start- up phase of the car-sharing program. Page September 2005 5-30
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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Exhibit 5-18 BART and City CarShare conducted extensive Exhibit 5-19 The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority marketing in the initial stages of the partnership. promotes car-sharing on its website As with local governments, the most effective marketing is often integrated with broader Transportation Demand Management pro- grams, particularly for agencies that have TDM responsibili- ties. For example, King County Metro views the "insertion" of car-sharing into its Commute Trip Reduction program as one of the most effective ways in which it supports car-shar- ing. In one effort, Metro partnered with Washington State Ferries, Kitsap Transit and Flexcar to establish 26 Commute Boards for ferry commuters on 11 of their ferries and at their terminals. The display board is complemented by brochures (Exhibit 5-20), and in the initial phases Flexcar representatives rode the ferries to advertise the availability of car-sharing at ferry terminals. Metro funded a promotion package offering free car-sharing membership and a $25 usage credit. Four hundred commuters signed up this way. Several transit agencies also bring brochures and the car-shar- ing operator's marketing material to transportation fairs and events. Los Angeles Metro and Flexcar, for instance, conduct joint marketing at different events. Metro has also paid for the production of "take-ones" timetable-sized brochures about car-sharing. Integration into employer outreach efforts can be another Exhibit 5-20 King County Metro and strategy for transit agencies. In Portland, OR TriMet provides partners promote car-sharing to ferry Flexcar with access to its employer database, which can be commuters. Page 5-31
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Chapter 5 · The Role of Partners used to find employers who may be interested in car-sharing. Especially small companies downtown, who cannot afford to buy their own company vehicles, have proven very interested in Flexcar when approached. Commute Trip Reduction staff at King County Metro, meanwhile, generates sales leads for Flexcar. The agency also views car-sharing as a means to further sales of its FlexPass a discounted transit pass that employers can purchase on behalf of all their employees. It frequently offers promotional incentives to tie the two products Flexcar and FlexPass together. Parking provision can also be seen as a means of marketing, in that it maximizes the visibility of the car-sharing service. This is discussed in the section below. Administration Most transit agencies do not provide any administrative support to their car-sharing partners. However, Los Angeles Metro provides office space for car-sharing organizations, as a form of in-kind support which may be particularly valuable in the start-up phase. The most in-depth example of administrative support comes from King County Metro in the Seattle region. A large part of its initial assistance was provided in the form of a full-time staff member to provide marketing and outreach support and serve as a liaison between Metro and Flexcar. This was intended to create an in-depth partnership, rather than simply a vendor relationship. Metro also provides office space, again as a means to strengthen the partnership by having Flexcar and its Commute Trip Reduction staff together on the same floor. Flexcar staff believes that the shared space makes for a "very synergistic relationship." Parking Parking is considered to be the main support that transit agencies provide to car-sharing organizations. Several agencies, such as WMATA and SEPTA, offer their most visible parking spaces, such as kiss-and-ride spaces and others that are located close to the station. As with local governments, transit agencies differ in whether they charge a car-sharing operator for parking and face several of the same conflicts. WMATA and Translink in Vancouver, BC provide spaces for free, as an in- kind contribution. Others, such as SEPTA and Metro North, charge the same rate as for other users. BART initially provided parking free of charge, but subsequently began to charge City CarShare the regular rate for reserved spaces. Page September 2005 5-32
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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Transit agencies also face challenges when determining whether to allo- cate spaces at stations where parking is at a premium. WMATA avoided this problem by providing midday parking spaces in its kiss-and-ride lots, which are not fully utilized, while park-and-ride lots are filled to capacity every day. The kiss-and-ride spaces are also the most visible and closest to the station, so this is a win-win situation for the car-sharing providers and WMATA. SEPTA suggests to PhillyCarShare that they should avoid request- ing parking at stations that regularly experience 100% occupancy. BART, on the other hand, has allocated scarce commuter spaces at four of its stations, including Rockridge (Exhibit 5-21), although it requested an evaluation of the overall impact on ridership (see Chapter 7). Exhibit 5-21 Car-sharing parking at BART's Rockridge station in the San Francisco Bay Area. Financial Most financial support comes from local government, as described in the previous section of this chapter. Transit agencies rarely provide direct fi- nancial support for car-sharing; where they do, it usually comes from grants and external funding rather than operating budgets. Staff at Metro North feels strongly that, as a public agency, they cannot finance any of the costs of a privately owned car-sharing project from general funds. WMATA staff adds that there are too many competing uses of scarce grant funds, making financial support for car-sharing "hard to justify." One exception is TriMet in Portland, which has received a CMAQ grant of approximately $100,000 a year to subsidize vanpooling. Flexcar is one of the Page 5-33
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Chapter 5 · The Role of Partners partners for this program, through its Flexvan program (discussed further in Section 5.7). Another is King County Metro, which tries to insert car-sharing into more general grants for demand management programs. This approach helps protect car-sharing from claims that scarce grant funding is going to a private company. Metro has also received two specific grants. The first was from the EPA, which funded the difference in purchase costs between hybrid vehicles and regular sedans. The grant also paid for outreach such as bus advertisements and radio spots that promoted the clean air value of using hybrids for car-sharing. The second was a JARC program earmark of $500,000, which is matched by the State of Washington, for low-income car-sharing (see Chapter 6). King County has recently received another $4 million in JARC funds and Washington State funds to provide mobility to job seekers in its low-income program. Transit Integration As noted earlier, a number of transit agencies assist in marketing and allow car-sharing vehicles to be parked in visible locations close to the station. Discounts are another method of linking the two modes of transportation. Most commonly, transit pass holders are eligible for discounted car-shar- ing memberships, although there are European and Canadian examples of transit discounts for car-sharing members. Smartcards and station cars are two other means of integrating car-sharing and transit. All of these strategies are discussed in turn below. Car-Sharing Discounts King County Metro in Seattle offers $35 worth of car-sharing use when its FlexPass employer transit pass holders join Flexcar. As well as a promo- tional incentive, Metro sees this program as a means to financially support car-sharing without providing direct subsidies; the incentives go to the end user, rather than directly to Flexcar. It uses the discounts as an introductory promotion to encourage members to both join and try the service out, with- out risking any longer-term financial incentives for driving. The discounts do not involve an additional outlay for Metro; instead of a direct subsidy, the agency purchases usage on Flexcar vehicles, which it then distributes as promotional incentives. The Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) offered a $100 discount on Page September 2005 5-34
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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds AutoShare's membership fee for transit riders who subscribed to the TTC's Metropass Discount Plan. Pass holders were also sent a subway map that showed the locations of transit stops and AutoShare cars. The most extensive experience, however, comes from Europe. In Mannheim and Aachen, Germany, a pilot program offered a discounted membership to transit pass holders who also joined car-sharing. The discount, com- bined with publicity about the pilot program, resulted in a 136% increase in car-sharing in Aachen and a 118% increase in Mannheim, compared to the previous year. Transit Discounts Local bus operators offer 10% off pre-paid fares for car-share members in Bristol, England and in Quebec, Canada. The Bristol bus operator goes one step further by giving car-share members a three-month free pass if members give up their cars. This is particularly notable since the operator, First Bristol, is a private company, rather than a public agency seeking to achieve broader goals. Fare Integration Many transit agencies are moving towards smartcard payment technolo- gies, which can provide further opportunities for integrating transit and car-sharing. The same card can serve as a transit pass and as an access card for car-sharing vehicles, providing a tangible symbol of integration as well as convenience benefits. WMATA has perhaps made the most progress in North America, although there is still a long way to go. It is seeking to allow the Metro SmarTrip transit card to be used to access both Flexcar and Zipcar vehicles. Flexcar has already successfully manufactured 20 test cards with both chips, and the next step is to do the same test with the Zipcar chip. WMATA wants the same card to serve as a driver's license and is working with the District of Columbia to achieve this goal. Integrating billing systems, however, remains a longer-term goal; WMATA is still working through the many challenges of establishing a common payment mechanism for the many transit agencies in the region and is not prepared to add car-sharing agencies to the mix as of yet. Again, the greatest experience comes from Europe. A single card in Bre- men, Germany can be used to pay for both car-sharing and riding transit at a discount. Members need a smartcard and PIN. They can also order Page 5-35
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Chapter 5 · The Role of Partners train tickets or take a taxi without spending cash the bills are added to their monthly car-sharing invoice. The smartcard in Zurich, Switzerland is valid for discounted car rentals and car-sharing usage, as a ticket on the national rail system, and as a free ticket for a companion on public transit. In London, the Oyster public transportation smartcard can be used to access CityCarClub vehicles. Station Car Program Station cars, which were discussed in Chapter 2, provide another integra- tion opportunity, if the vehicles form part of the wider car-sharing program. Portland, OR has the most experience with this model. TriMet, Flexcar and two vanpool providers have created a unique "pool vehicle" concept for the firm of Norm Thompson Outfitters, the Oregon Health & Science University and others, similar to a station car program. Vanpoolers participating in Flexvan pick up the van at a light rail station and drive to the office in the morning. During the day, employees and any Flexcar member can reserve the van as a company car for personal or company business. At the end of the day, vanpoolers drive back to the light rail stations. Flexcar and TriMet subsidize the monthly fee for the vanpoolers, because they consider it an economical way to serve low-density office parks and suburbs. If a person drops out of the vanpool, TriMet also helps cover the extra costs for the other vanpool members. The subsidy is offered the first two months after a person leaves the vanpool, with a cap of two drop-outs per year. A similar concept was tested in Vancouver, BC in 2003, when Translink launched the Commuter Car Share project. However, it terminated before the end of the pilot program six months later. Only three participants had joined in that period and the feedback was that the program was not flexible enough, since the participants had to pay for the car on weekdays when they did not work. Each participant paid $225 per month for transit pass and car usage; the rest of the costs were covered by the grant. Another barrier was that since it was a pilot program, users were reluctant to sell a car in case the service did not continue. Memberships Transit agencies usually have non-revenue fleets, which include many pool cars that could be replaced by car-sharing. While some have expressed interest, there are no examples that are up and running yet. The most ad- vanced in the planning process is Los Angeles Metro, which is evaluating the possibility of replacing and reducing up to half of its 392 pool cars with Page September 2005 5-36
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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds a semi-dedicated car-sharing fleet. The vehicles could be made available to other Flexcar members after working hours. The net reduction in vehicles would also yield revenue for the agency through the cost savings which would occur with a reduced pool fleet. Planning, Policy and Tax Issues Most transit agencies have not seen the need to incorporate car-sharing into formal planning documents. One exception is BART in the San Francisco Bay Area, which includes car-sharing in its Station Access Guidelines. These state: Reserved spaces for car-sharing services should be in high-profile locations, in an area that is closer to the station faregates than the majority of the at-large parking spots. Where clearly visible locations are available, car- sharing spaces can be provided on street. Car-sharing is also included in BART's hierarchy of access modes, which give priority to walking, transit and bicycle access (Exhibit 5-22). The other opportunity to include car-sharing in agency planning may come through transit- oriented development programs. King County Metro has experimented with this concept, al- though with limited suc- cess as most of its land holdings take the form of suburban park-and-ride lots that are not well- suited to car-sharing. At one Redmond site, for example, the car was ul- timately withdrawn due to low utilization. Exhibit 5-22 BART's formal hierarchy of access modes. Source: BART Station Access Guidelines. Page 5-37