Click for next page ( 192


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Chapter 6. Factors for Success Car-sharing is a recent phenomenon in the United States. As with any new concept, it faces challenges in getting a stronghold as an alternative transportation mode. This chapter outlines some of those challenges and gives examples of how they were mitigated by the actions of partner organizations that were consulted for this research. It concludes by describing common themes that contribute to the successful establishment of car-sharing. The analysis in this chapter is based on the discussion at the Opera- tors' Workshop, the interviews with partner organizations, and the literature review. (See Chapter 1 for an overview of these research methodologies.) Note that it primarily considers "external" barri- ers and factors for success that partner organizations can help to address. This chapter does not attempt to cover internal barriers for car-sharing operators themselves, such as operational and technol- ogy issues. 6.1Overcoming Barriers As with any innovation, certain issues arise that have not been con- fronted before. On top of these are other issues that are common to the start-up of a new idea, for which car-sharing is no exception. This section discusses the following barriers and suggests ways of overcoming them by citing the actions of others who have already implemented car-sharing in their community or business: Finding a partner Understanding car-sharing Lack of data Financial barriers Regulatory obstacles Parking issues Serving low-income participants Geographic and cultural barriers Page 6-1

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success Finding a Partner In many of the situations examined here, the car-sharing operator instigated the conversation about car-sharing in the selected community. The operator had done enough research to identify the community as a likely prospect for a successful car-sharing venture. However, collaborating with a partner or- ganization smoothed the operator's entry into many of the communities. Finding a Home Without a department dedicated to alternative modes, car-sharing doesn't have a natural "home" within a partner organization. A city, employer or university with a TDM program is more likely to have a champion that can carry the idea forward within the organizational structure than an agency that focuses all transportation in a parking or public works department. Similarly, a transit agency that takes a broader view of its goals, and sees itself as a mobility manager, is more likely to carry the car-sharing concept forward. The planning staff in Arlington, Massachusetts, for example, had conducted preliminary conversations among themselves about car-sharing but had never had the time to investigate it further. Car-sharing doesn't fit within their core responsibilities. The citizens' Transportation Advisory Commit- tee never raised car-sharing as an issue, which might otherwise have given policy direction to a staff with many other demands on their time. In con- trast, car-sharing is a natural complement to the University of Wisconsin's TDM program at its Madison campus. The lack of a "home" for car-sharing even within agencies that are already partnering with operators was evident in this research. Many phone calls were made to find a person in the agency who knew about the program. Even then, researchers were sometimes unsuccessful in locating the right person. Staffs in local jurisdictions vaguely knew that their organization was involved but had no idea who was in charge. Car-sharing in these agencies is still an anomaly that doesn't quite fit within the organization's understanding of its mission. Using Public Funds Staff in some agencies have expressed concern about using public money for car-sharing to support a private company, such as Zipcar or Flexcar. King County Metro in Seattle, Washington was not in a position to operate car-sharing itself and chose to partner with Flexcar to provide the service. Metro staff indicated that the agency's public funds are being used to part- Page September 2005 6-2

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds ner with Flexcar in order to demonstrate the viability of car-sharing and to test the different markets where car-sharing may prove successful. Flexcar was able to quickly get the car-sharing project up and running--a project that was strongly supported by several champions within the organization. Because of this partnership, Metro's public dollars were not the sole source for the program. Instead its funds were leveraged with Flexcar's private dollars, enhancing the overall project. SEPTA took a different approachviewing car-sharing as an adjunct to public transportation. As a result, SEPTA selected a non-profit, PhillyCarShare, as its partner. SEPTA staff believes that a non-profit operator is more open to promoting car-sharing when needed and not as a substitute for public transit than a for-profit operator who must be concerned with the bottom line. Understanding Car-Sharing Not only potential partners, but the public at large, often do not understand what car-sharing is--how it differs from ridesharing and rental car agencies as well as how and where it works. Even where car-sharing is established, it can continue to take effort to dispel confusion about the concept of car- sharing. Relating Car-Sharing to Goals Partners do not necessarily equate car-sharing as a natural extension of their goals. For example, since King County Metro in Seattle primarily provides transit service, the connection between car-sharing and transit was not obvious to everyone at the agency. Some Metro staff questioned how getting involved with car-sharing would increase the transit agency's ridership, which is its core mission. Those who advocated that car-sharing was in alignment with the transit agency's role to promote overall mobil- ity see a clear connection. They believe that car-sharing complements the agency's mission. One way the car-sharing proponents in Metro have demonstrated its compat- ibility with transit is to use the car-sharing program to help sell FlexPass, its monthly pass purchased by employers for their employees. "We're making the FlexPass more valuable," said one staffer, by linking car-sharing and transit. Another strategy was to introduce car-sharing instead of increasing transit service on some routes during nights and weekends, which proved to be a more cost-effective method of providing mobility. However, car-sharing operators have generally found it difficult to partner Page 6-3

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success with transit agencies on discounted passes. One respondent wrote, "The transit agencies seem reluctant to offer it [a discount] to the car-sharing operators because they feel they'll be losing revenue by selling discounted fares to people who are now or would be willing to pay full price." The transit agencies do not view car-sharing as a natural complement to their own goals. If the goal is to reduce parking demand, one operator has found that it is a counter-intuitive argument to tell a partner that you need to find parking spaces for car-sharing vehicles. In this case, city staff may not understand the benefits car-sharing can produce in reducing the overall need for parking. Even when there is a receptive champion within the organization, the lack of supportive policies or conflicting internal policies can be daunting. For example, car-sharing fits into the goal of Tufts University's Climate Initiative, which is to reduce climate emissions. Nonetheless, it took years to convince the facilities staff to allow a free car-sharing parking space at its Boston, Massachusetts campus. The goal of the facilities staff to maximize revenues for the campus' premium, scarce, high-value parking spaces conflicted with the Climate Initiative's goals. On the other hand, a potential partner may think that car-sharing will, in fact, help reach goals without a full understanding of the types of settings necessary for car-sharing to succeed. For example, some partners have required the operator to set up car-sharing in a low-income neighborhood where many residents may not have driver's licenses or money for hourly fees, or in neighborhoods where households typically have three or more cars--settings that pose difficult challenges for success. WMATA included a provision in its Request for Proposals (RFP) that the selected operator locate vehicles in the entire service area, which includes not only Washington, DC but also Maryland and Virginia. Others have tried to tie separate priorities, such as energy-efficient electric vehicles, with the car-sharing programs. Partners may not realize the risk and start-up costs involved in establishing car-sharing in a community. They need to understand the types of support partners can provide in order to overcome these barriers and realistically align the car-sharing program with the partner's own goals. Difficulties with True Cost Comparisons At the same time, the public at large is not educated on the true costs of owning an automobile, and, often erroneously, perceives car-sharing to be a more expensive option. Highest in people's consciousness are what Page September 2005 6-4

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds they pay at the gas pump and for parking. Costs that are not encountered daily--such as insurance, license fees, smog tests, and maintenance--are not as transparent, when compared to out-of-pocket hourly and mileage fees for car-sharing. In addition, the pride in ownership of an automobile is touted daily in advertising. The notion of sharing an automobile runs counter to the cultural bias toward the car as a symbol of personal freedom. In themselves, these factors make it hard to "sell" car-sharing. Unfamiliarity with the concept of car-sharing just adds to this difficulty. The lack of understanding about car-sharing and its benefits is fueled by a natural resistance to change. One city's fleet manager was concerned about having to cut jobs in his department if car-sharing replaced vehicles. Other employees feared the loss of "perks" without access to a city vehicle. At the University of Washington, 21 departments have signed up to use Flexcar as a substitute for motor pool cars, but only one has actually given up a pool car. Even though a pool car costs a department $600 a month, "It's not usu- ally a rational cost decision--they want their pool cars," according to the transportation staff, because of departments' perceptions of convenience and availability. At the City of Berkeley in California, staff is supportive of the overall concept of replacing fleet vehicles with car-sharing, but more resistant when their own vehicle is targeted. A car-sharing proponent on the staff in another city had to defend its benefits when other staff accused him of social engineering. They believed that it was not the city's role to subsidize car-sharing in order to move people out of single-occupant automobiles. Need for Standardized Definition One of the desires expressed at the Operators' Workshop conducted dur- ing this research was the need for a clear, concise definition of car-sharing. The lack of definition is not only a barrier in finding partners but also in recruiting members beyond the early adopters. This research attempts to address the issue in Chapter 2 by presenting a series of definitions used by others. Perhaps the most succinct and descriptive definition is that used by the State of Washington: A membership program intended to offer an alternative to car ownership under which persons or entities that become members are permitted to use vehicles from a fleet on an hourly basis Page 6-5

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success Using the definitions listed in Chapter 2, operators could collaborate on adopting one of them for universal use. When one definition becomes re- peated and standardized, it may mitigate some of the regulatory barriers discussed later in this chapter. And familiarity with the concept will lead to a better understanding for everyone of car-sharing and its benefits. Lack of Data Another benefit of this research, according to the operators, is the credibility that can be gained from an impartial examination of car-sharing. When operators present their case to potential partners, many are skeptical about its claims. Because car-sharing is relatively new, a body of data is not read- ily available to prove its worth to agencies that are being asked to invest in it, either financially or through resources, such as parking spaces. Some agencies worry about accepting operators' data at face value, recognizing that operators are businesses that must make a profit. Need for Performance Data One reason that only a slim amount of objective data on the benefits of car-sharing exists is because current partners rarely establish performance measures. As one partner said, the main criterion is whether the company is still around. "If it's profitable, it means that it's being marketed and that people are using it." Another summed up the attitude of many partners when she said, "It's one of those `good to have' things that does make a difference, but is difficult to quantify. It just helps chip away at the barri- ers to transit use or carpooling." Her statement reflects the view of many partners--that car-sharing is just one of many tools to address congestion and pollution which, by itself, will not cause significant change. Therefore, some partners believe it is not important to get heavily involved in evalu- ation and monitoring. Need for Cost Data A number of public agencies that are turning to car-sharing to replace their vehicle fleets have found that they themselves do not have good data by which they can compare fleet costs to car-sharing costs. For example, the City of Berkeley started its fleet program by identifying underused depart- ment vehicles. Because data was manually collected by departments and assumptions had to be made about costs and utilization, it took a year to determine the first 15 vehicles that would be replaced by car-sharing. The University of Pennsylvania is running into the same issue, because all its Page September 2005 6-6

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds schools have their own vehicles. Since there is no centralized fleet and costs are distributed across different budgets, the transportation staff does not have the necessary data. They will need to compile the data themselves in order to study how fleet-sharing could work in their environment. As car-sharing grows, agencies, particularly local governments, will need to justify their investments and other public support by applying performance measures. To address this need, Chapter 7 discusses performance measures and useful data to support the measures. Collecting these data will expand the understanding of car-sharing and its benefits. Financial Barriers As Chapter 5 described, many partners help initiate car-sharing by provid- ing operators with sorely needed seed money. One US operator estimates that it can cost $1 million to open up a new market. As with any new busi- ness, there are start-up costs that need to be covered before any revenue is forthcoming. For example, the operator needs to purchase vehicles, obtain insurance, set up a reservation system, hire staff, market to prospective members and find parking near them. It then takes time to build the busi- ness and break even. All of these steps require risk-taking, which a partner organization can help mitigate. The benefit will be a new mobility option for the partners' constituencies--residents, businesses, renters, employees, and transit riders. Grant Restrictions When the partner's funding assistance comes from grants, restrictions often impose administrative burdens on the public partner. For example, when the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a non-profit in Chicago, Illinois wanted to set up a demonstration car-sharing project, the City of Chicago agreed to apply for federal funds. (See Exhibit 6-1 for details.) However, the City believes that the FTA could better promote car-sharing if it made direct grants to the recipient, instead of requiring the operator to find an open-minded government agency to act as the pass-through. Grant funding usually comes with restrictions placed on the recipient i.e. the grant can only be used for specific purposes. King County Metro received a federal JARC grant, which can only be used for low-income participants in the car-sharing program. It also received an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to provide 23 hybrids in order to promote Page 6-7

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success Exhibit 6-1 CMAQ Funds Support Chicago Car-Sharing The City of Chicago agreed to apply as the sponsoring government agency for federal Congestion Management and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) funds after the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) had been turned down by others. Like the others, Chicago had some concerns about being the pass-through agency. Not only would the City be held responsible for performance of the non-profit even though the City was only the middleman, but it would also be taking on an unfunded mandate through the preparation of all the paperwork involved. With the CMAQ grant, the City was awarded $250,000 to start I-GO by providing CNT with the operating costs for 11 vehicles. Altogether, the City secured $600,000 over three fiscal years for start-up operations funding. In 2005, Chicago was awarded a second CMAQ grant of $419,000 to expand the program with more vehicles, totaling $1 million in federal grant funds for I-GO. The City continues to be involved in monitoring and reporting on the grant to the Federal Transit Administration. clean air benefits. The grant was used to pay Flexcar the cost difference between supplying a combustion engine vehicle and a hybrid. Similarly, Agence Mtropolitaine de Transport in Montral plans to provide hybrids to Communauto car-sharing members with a partial grant from Transport Canada's Urban Transportation Showcase project. The original proposal was for electric vehicles. However, the project has been delayed because of the high cost and difficulty of obtaining electric vehicles, causing a shift to hybrids. These examples illustrate grants which met the agencies' goals. Nevertheless, a downside of using grant funds is that the restrictions may not always coincide with the most pressing program priorities or may divert the agency from its main mission. Some partners worry that car-sharing cannot succeed without ongoing financial help in addition to start-up funding. For example, I-GO in Chi- cago asked for a second CMAQ grant and subsequently received an award through the City of Chicago for 35 vehicles to expand its fleet. The City's Department of Transportation is again a pass-through for a federal grant. The Executive Director of the Lloyd District TMA, a business district east of downtown Portland, Oregon suggests that expenses for car-sharing be built into either parking fees or transit pass charges. The TMA has used CMAQ funds to give unlimited use of car-sharing vehicles in the business district if an employee has a transit pass and also signs up for car-sharing. The Director wonders if the 50 car-share members will continue to use the service, now that the grant is depleted and the free access will be discontinued. Page September 2005 6-8

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Attracting competition could be a long-term goal of partner organizations to ensure against the financial difficulties any one operator may incur. For example, both Zipcar and Flexcar are now operating in the Washington, DC area. Concerns about sustainability of the car-sharing program will also be allayed if the market is established and has proven viable in a given region. Insurance Costs Insurance costs continue to be a major financial burden for car-sharing operators. Insurance accounts for 20-40% of an operator's total costs, ac- cording to a study published in Transportation Research Record. In July 2002, this amounted to $4,800-$6,000 per vehicle per year. One cause is the fact that car-sharing has not yet been assigned a risk class within the insurance industry, leading to widely variable interpretations of the risk by insurers (Shaheen, Meyn & Wipyewski, 2003). The problem of insurance costs and the development of data to support a new classification category is one that should be addressed by the car-sharing industry acting jointly (see Chapter 8 for more discussion about joint actions). One of the biggest potential untapped markets--university students--is inhibited by insurance costs imposed on the operator. The University of Washington and the University of Victoria in British Columbia both report that this is a major obstacle for expansion of their program. Initially, the University of Washington had a waiver to allow 18-20 year olds into the pro- gram, but it was dropped later due to exorbitant insurance costs. Stanford University in California has solved this problem by requiring that the car- share operator find coverage in order to serve the campus. City CarShare qualified 18-20 year olds with a clean driving record, who had also passed a defensive driving course. When City CarShare closed the program due to lack of demand, Stanford then partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a large national company. Enterprise has made hourly rentals possible and allows student who are 18 years or older with valid proof of insurance and a major credit or debit card to participate in the car-sharing program. Suggested Tax Code Changes To ease financial burdens on car-sharing, Arlington County, Virginia staff would like changes in the State's tax code. Currently, vanpool vehicles do not pay state vehicle taxes. Extending this exemption to car-sharing vehicles would remove a financial barrier. Another partner in Chicago echoes this Page 6-9

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success idea and further suggests that there be breaks in the tax code for car-sharing similar to those for solar power. Regulatory Obstacles Even if a partner attempts to help the car-sharing operator, they both can run into obstacles from other agencies or restrictive legislation that inhibits their progress. Because car-sharing doesn't fit neatly into an existing category, regulators sometimes want to impose taxes and higher fees on car-shar- ing. Zoning restrictions can limit car-share parking in both residential and commercial settings. Minimum parking standards can block developers' incentive to introduce car-sharing in order to reduce parking demand. The following examples illustrate how some partners overcame these regulatory obstacles. Taxes and Fees The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in Wash- ington, DC wanted to regard each car-sharing space as a place of business, requiring a "certificate of occupancy" for each parking space. This example demonstrates the misunderstanding about car-sharing and the regulatory barriers it can face. Fortunately, in this particular case, a memo from DDOT explaining the characteristics of car-sharing served to absolve car-sharing companies of these barriers. In another instance, DCRA classified car- sharing vehicles as rental cars. This had a negative impact on insurance costs for the car-sharing firms. DDOT requested that, if the law provided DCRA with a choice in the matter, a classification that had a lower cost on car-sharing companies would be appropriate in light of the public benefits derived from maximizing car-sharing participation. In some jurisdictions, rental cars are subject to an additional tourist lodging and entertainment tax, so avoiding this classification for car-sharing is an important economic consideration for the operator. Parking Regulations Zoning regulations can be a barrier to locating parking for car-share ve- hicles. Staff in the City of Arlington, Massachusetts worry that allowing car-sharing parking on residential streets may be considered a violation of zoning regulations, which prohibit businesses in areas not zoned for it. Because the City of Seattle also had this concern, it amended its Land Use Code to allow car-sharing as an accessory use for residential buildings. A less formal method of addressing the problem was used in Washington, DC, Page September 2005 6-10

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds where staff from DDOT wrote to the Zoning Commissioner in response to a resident's complaint. DDOT described the characteristics of car-sharing to justify why it is an appropriate use in a residential area. This resolved the zoning issue. In addition, cities that want to give on-street car-sharing parking spaces in commercial areas may be accused of privatizing the street if a particular company benefits. The City of Seattle resolved this problem by signing the spaces for a class of vehicles: "Carshare vehicles only." Arlington County, Virginia installs orange poles with "No Parking" signs and attaches car-shar- ing brochures, both paid for by the car-sharing operator. These solutions are similar to the concept of taxi stands, which are authorized for a class of private vehicles that serve a public good. Zoning restrictions that set minimum parking requirements for development can be an obstacle. There is no way to capture the benefits of car-sharing in reducing demand if no deviation from a parking standard is permitted. Developers are more likely to include car-sharing as a traffic and parking mitigation if they receive, as an incentive, credits allowing them to build less parking. For example, the City of Berkeley waives parking minimums on a case-by-case basis. As a result, Panoramic Interests provides two City CarShare spaces out of 40 total parking spaces in its downtown building, which houses 91 apartments and 10,000 square feet of commercial space. However, some cities have been skeptical about reducing parking require- ments. The City of Seattle's Land Use Code will only allow one car-sharing space to replace one required parking space in new residential development. In drafting the legislation, Seattle staff did not have sufficient data to deter- mine that parking reductions for car-sharing would not cause spillover park- ing on adjoining streets. They also worried about providing an incentive to reduce parking unrelated to the actual demand for car-sharing. In Toronto, Canada staff determined that they lacked a mechanism to guarantee that car-sharing would always be available. Their concern was that a building with reduced parking could outlast the car-sharing operation. In some cases, the lending institution, not the city, can be the barrier, fearing that reduced parking will decrease the project's viability. The requirements of the market also dictate supply; national retailers, for example, may actu- ally want more parking than the city requires or will allow (Parzen & Sigal, 2004). Page 6-11

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success Trip Reduction Ordinances Despite the barriers mentioned above, regulations can sometimes act to promote car-sharing. The State of Washington's Commute Trip Reduc- tion ordinance requires employers with 100 or more full-time employees at a single worksite to develop and implement a commute trip reduction program. This ordinance has spurred more success in the business market than in other parts of the country, according to a Flexcar representative. The legislation provides an opening for employers to learn about car-shar- ing, particularly when commute trip reduction staff promotes car-sharing alongside other TDM strategies. Parking Provision Car-sharing cannot succeed without conveniently located vehicles near the members. Yet, finding affordable, well-located parking for the vehicles is one of the barriers most frequently mentioned by operators. Communauto in Canada reports that it has a problem absorbing the high demand for memberships and needs help from local governments to secure parking for its cars. However, even a supportive municipality or business can have difficulty providing help, because parking is a volatile issue in areas with constrained supply. Objections about reserving parking for a particular class of users--in this case car-sharers--can come from residents, from employees, and even from other city departments with different priorities. These objections can spill over into enforcement problems, as other parkers risk tickets for a place to put their cars. Charging for Car-Sharing Parking Paying for parking can be a significant cost for the car-sharing operator. It is another expense that must be factored into the business plan when an operator is deciding to serve a community. For example, Zipcar pays $75 a month per vehicle for parking at some Metro North stations in New York. Metro North, a commuter rail system, considers it to be a gift of public funds if it were to give Zipcar free parking. On the other hand, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides four free parking spaces on campus for the Zipcar program, forgoing revenue of up to $4,600 a year for this car- sharing incentive. The operator can offer lower rates to members when free car-share parking is available. One operator notes that it's particularly important to keep costs low when a new car-sharing service is initially introduced in order to attract Page September 2005 6-12

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds membership sign-ups. Recognizing this incentive, Cambridge, Massachu- setts discounted 20 spaces in lots or garages in order to get car-sharing started in the community, gradually moving to the current full market rates. Nonetheless, the need for revenue is a barrier cities face in providing the most visible on-street spaces for car-sharing. Despite its support for car-sharing, the City of San Diego does not yet designate metered spaces for car-sharing, partly because it does not want to lose the meter revenue. On the other hand, Arlington County, Virginia cites on-street parking as the most important support that they provide. Representatives recognize that there is some revenue loss but say, "Fifty spaces is a drop in the ocean." They state, "We like to think that the car-share use of on-street parking spaces near transit facilities is a necessary and practical piece of the transportation infrastructure that serves world-class transit-oriented development just like sidewalks, crosswalks, taxi stands, and curbside bus stops." Similarly WMATA considers that the small amount of revenue loss from meters in their kiss-and-ride spaces is outweighed by the gain in ridership. Resolving Parking Objections Car-sharing operators need parking that is not simply available--it must also be located where it is actually needed to serve members. However, anything that takes away a parking space in an area with a tight parking supply can provoke strong opposition. When DDOT in Washington, DC asked the car-sharing operators to identify potentially desirable curbside parking spaces for their vehicles, some residents "were up in arms." Since Residential Permit Parking spaces are so scarce, residents called it "outra- geous" and "corporate welfare" to "give away" curbside parking to for-profit corporations. DDOT met with several advisory neighborhood commissions. In most cases, DDOT achieved some progress by showing that it proposed a reasonable quid pro quo for access to reserved curbside spaces. Nonethe- less, most commissions passed resolutions supporting car-sharing parking, but only for newly created spaces. In a different twist on parking angst, car-sharing came to the rescue of The Defender Association, a non-profit corporation that provides public defender services in the Seattle region. The association experienced high employee resistance when it proposed to cut its costs by reducing the number of park- ing spaces it rented for investigators. After lots of meetings, the organization agreed to keep half the spaces and institute car-sharing, allowing investiga- Page 6-13

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success tors to use car-sharing vehicles to conduct field visits on days when they do not drive to work. Although the investigators are still somewhat miffed, the deputy director says that the organization now leases only 10 spaces instead of 20 and the program with the car-sharing operator has been extended. Enforcement Parking enforcement can also be an issue. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, drivers park in restricted car-sharing spaces while they go inside city offices to pay parking tickets for illegal parking! One Canadian operator installs signs that sport a tow truck and warn, "Don't Even Think of Parking in Our Spot." San Francisco, California is considering proposed legislation that will give hybrids and car-sharing vehicles free parking in city spaces. However, this can pose possible enforcement problems, such as whether officers can easily identify hybrids and how to determine if the vehicle has violated the time limits at metered spaces. Other cities' regulations requiring that all cars be removed for street cleaning or snow removal can complicate car-sharing operations that rely on street parking for the vehicles. An operational issue that car-sharing operators can face is the need for mem- ber access in secured parking facilities. Venezia Apartments in downtown Santa Monica, California has one free car-share parking space. All car-sharing members, not just tenants, receive the code to the building when booking the car online. The code is changed on a regular basis to minimize the number of people with access to the building. In an apartment building in Washington, DC, car-sharing members use their Flexcar smartcard to enter the garage housing the car-share vehicle. For security, residents go into the garage by the building's elevator, which can't be accessed with the smartcard. Serving Low-Income Participants When public support is involved, agencies have expressed the need for equitable access to car-sharing for all its citizens. This requirement can create problems for the operator, because low-income areas are sometimes difficult to serve--both in terms of profitability and also in terms of qualify- ing participants. Recognizing the operator's need for a return on investment, the City of Seattle sweetened its requirement to encourage car-sharing in diverse neighbor- hoods by contributing $30,000--half the costs--to place cars in four low- income areas for one year. The funding is not outright, but pays for usage on the car-sharing vehicles. Seattle, King County Metro, and Washington Page September 2005 6-14

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds State Department of Transportation have also recently received JARC federal funds for welfare-to-work activities. (See Exhibit 6-2 for details.) Similarly, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco Bay Area uses JARC funds to underwrite the costs of deposits and fees for welfare-to-work participants in the City CarShare program. Half of the usage charges are also discounted by MTC. Even when the public agency contributes funds to ensure car-sharing is available to low-income residents, the program may face barriers caused by potential participants' own circumstances. For example, the City of Vancouver, Washington partnered with the Vancouver Housing Author- ity and Flexcar in a pilot program for residents in affordable housing. Ten pilot households in two different developments were to receive free Flexcar accounts, paid by the Housing Authority, and five free car-share hours a month, paid by the three partners. So far only five households have been found eligible. Other potential participants did not have a driver's license, had a poor credit history, or did not have a checking account. This problem is echoed by the developer of a downtown Berkeley, California apartment building, who said that his low-income tenants are not car-sharing members because of poor credit ratings. A further obstacle is that many low-income residents do not have English as their native language. Car-sharing information on usage is generally exclusively in English, creating a barrier to the potential low-income par- Exhibit 6-2 Low-Income Car-Sharing in Seattle "Transportation is often the biggest obstacle facing job-seekers, especially those in lower income households," said Patrice Davis, partnership coordinator at WorkSource Washington, a program of the Washington State Employment Security Department in Seattle. "Our programs help prepare people for the job search and interview process. But sometimes they can't get to an interview or access additional training with public transit, which hinders our efforts. By giving these people access to a car, more people can get better jobs faster." The funding for this program comes under the federally funded Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program and enables clients of employment programs (such as WorkSource Washington) and other qualified individuals to use Flexcar for free on all trips that are related to job search or job training. The program also enables participants to access Flexcar at a significant discount for trips, such as child care, doctor's appointments or others that are related to mobility from the workplace. Excerpt from "Flexcar Extends Car-Sharing Program; Innovative Program to Help Qualified People Access Employment, Training and Other Services," http://home.businesswire.com, March 28, 2005. Page 6-15

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success ticipant. WMATA is one agency that is cognizant of these barriers, and its RFP includ- ed specific criteria to ensure that car-sharing would be available to as many sectors of the community as possible. For example, it wanted an operator that did not impose a credit check or security deposit as a condition for joining. "We didn't want them to only be available to the higher income segments of the population," said a WMATA representative. It also has been working to promote access for people with disabilities, by requiring that operators install hand controls on request. If a vehicle is under-utilized, WMATA will allow it to be moved to another station in the same jurisdiction, but tries to avoid a shift from a low-income to high-income neighborhood. Geographic and Cultural Barriers The preceding discussion illustrates barriers faced by car-sharing operators that have been creatively addressed in various ways by partner organiza- tions. However, there are additional barriers over which partners have no control or which will take changes lasting years or decades to overcome. These include land use issues and cultural attitudes. Appropriate Markets Chapter 3 outlines the market settings where car-sharing is likely to succeed, to date. Urban neighborhoods that are dense, with mixed-use development, scarce parking, and good transit offer the best potential for car-sharing. Without these elements, car-sharing is much more difficult to establish. Auto-oriented land uses featuring low-density development, big box stores, and free, large parking lots are not particularly conducive to car-sharing. These same areas are not likely to have convenient transit service to serve as a complementary mode of transportation. At the Stapleton development in Denver, Colorado, for example, car-shar- ing was tried and discontinued. According to the Director of Sustainability for Forest City Enterprises, the failure resulted primarily because it was too early in the project, before density had maximized. Neither did car-sharing programs in suburban Bellevue, Bremerton, and Kitsap, Washington prove to be wholly successful, according to Flexcar. However, as Chapter 3 notes, car-sharing has been successful in some non-urban circumstances, such as at suburban university campuses, apartment buildings, and rural areas with characteristics such as a high degree of personal involvement, good transit, and the availability of local services. Page September 2005 6-16

OCR for page 191
Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Chapter 2 discusses new market development not reliant on the neighbor- hood residential model, which is the current key market. The models below are not as dependent on favorable geographic attributes, which partners may not have the power to easily change. Instead, partners can help the viability of car-sharing even in non-urban areas by assisting operators with: Business sharing, which combines residential evening and week- end use with use by business during the day in order to create a sustainable revenue stream Fleet sharing, which provides an organization with exclusive use of car-sharing vehicles at particular times, guaranteeing a revenue source Lease sharing, whereby an individual leases a vehicle, but makes it available to other car-sharing members when not needed, or where only a small group has access to a single vehicle Car Culture Cultural obstacles are also primarily beyond partners' immediate control and will take longer-term strategies to address. America is a car culture, as evi- denced (i) by the preponderance of automobile ads appealing to individual freedom linked to car ownership and (ii) the corresponding low percentage of people who travel by an alternative mode. Further, as discussed earlier, people do not have a true understanding of the cost of auto ownership and tend to consider only the variable costs, such as fuel, when comparing the cost with another travel mode. However, the cost of the auto ownership may become more apparent as fuel prices increase and congestion makes the personal cost of travel time unbearable. Partner organizations can help by making the cost more appar- ent in relation to parking. Many suburban locations have an abundance of parking that is free to the user. Of course, the parking isn't really free--it is bundled into the cost of the construction and the rent or lease. Donald Shoup, an urban economist at the University of California at Los Angeles, argues that land is wasted and goods cost more because businesses have to compensate for losses from building and maintaining vast, empty spaces for parking (Shoup, 2005). If parkers had to pay the true costs of parking--which can cost $20,000 or more per space to build in a structure--they would be able to make more rational comparisons between owning a car and joining car-sharing. (See Chapter 4 for more on parking costs.) Therefore, there are some short-term strategies that partners can employ to overcome cultural biases toward the single-occupant automobile: Page 6-17

OCR for page 191
Chapter 6 Factors for Success Make parking costs transparent by charging for parking instead of making it free. Lower the parking requirement for commercial and residential land uses near transit. Allow multiple-use parking that serves customers by day and residents by night. The District of Columbia Office of Planning, for example, notes that many of the wider policy changes that it is pursuing to encourage alternative modes will help to create a more attractive environment for car-sharing. Changing Current Conditions Longer-range strategies include increased densities around transit hubs. "Residents living near transit stations are around five times more likely to commute by transit as the average resident worker in the same city," ac- cording to a report issued by the California DOT (Lund, Cervero & Willson, 2004). And when residents can rely on transit for their commute, they are also more able to rely on car-sharing for the rest of their trips. The com- munity benefits are reduced congestion and parking demand. A corollary requirement is better funding for transit. By increasing the fre- quency and coverage, transit can fulfill its role as an essential and comple- mentary mode to car-sharing. In addition, partners can improve walkability in neighborhoods. Lack of sidewalks, cul-de-sacs with no pathways to the main street, and obstacles such as open drainage ditches discourage people from walking and push them into their personal automobile. If these barriers are present, car-shar- ing members will be unable to easily access car-sharing vehicles and may give up on the idea. Many affluent communities are also environmentally sensitive and may consider car-sharing as a beneficial response to pollution and overdevelop- ment of land for freeways and parking. For example, Brookline, Massachu- setts is a "green," affluent city very well-served by transit, which has also embraced car-sharing. Zipcar is a perfect complement to the community's environmental bent, according to city staff, making Brookline a more desir- able place to live. Like Brookline, partners in other communities can offer car-sharing as one tool to address the larger societal issues of land uses and fuel consumption. Page September 2005 6-18