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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds In other words, car-sharing can't "paper over the cracks" that is, it isn't a panacea for fundamental, underlying transportation problems. Car-sharing only makes sense as part of a wider package; it is not a solution to the lack of mobility in a community in and of itself. Neither can it exist in isolation. It can be a tool to address community concerns about the environment--re- duced air pollution, fuel consumption, and sprawl. But to work it must be combined with other strategies, such as good transit and pedestrian alternatives, and land development that doesn't always require the use of an automobile for everyday living. 6.2 Factors for Success The previous section outlines barriers to car-sharing and offers examples of how partner organizations have successfully addressed these barriers. The common themes that run through these examples of success are: · Identifying a champion for car-sharing · Adopting supportive policies and regulations · Providing funds · Implementing supportive actions · Selecting the right neighborhoods Identifying a Champion In many cases, the need for a champion is critical to success--someone who recognizes the benefits of car-sharing and works to promote it. The champion may be a well-placed staff member who can influence others in the organization. The champion may come directly from a political voice in the community. Or the champion may actually consist of a group of people who discuss its benefits through word-of-mouth to others in the community and, perhaps, organize a grassroots effort to initiate car-sharing. The fol- lowing are examples of car-sharing champions from communities across the country: Minneapolis-St.Paul. County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin in Hennepin County, Minnesota, is a long-time transit and light rail advocate who views car-sharing as a great complement to these modes. It's tied to his larger vision, because "It allows people to use transit and avoid the need for a car." When hOurCar approached him for start-up funds to get the operation off the ground, he was able to secure a $50,000 grant from the County's general fund. He Page 6-19
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Chapter 6 · Factors for Success regarded the grant as a small catalyst to leverage other funds to reduce car dependence, especially compared to the millions spent on transit highways. Seattle. A high-placed staff member in the Market Development group at King County Metro had been following car-sharing in Europe and its integration with transit. The Market Development group had a history of innovation with the political leaders at the County. A prior record of success with transit passes for businesses and the university was helpful when this staff member began to promote car-sharing. He commissioned a feasibility study to look at several models of car-sharing and analyze which would best fit Seattle's profile. Before the launch of the project, he created an advisory group of various agencies, which helped establish key support. Chicago. The City of Chicago has 50 aldermen, each similar to the mayor of a small town. Those in congested neighborhoods promote car-sharing as a means to address the parking issues caused by gentrification. I-GO works with the aldermen to get spaces in these neighborhoods. For example, Alderman Tom Tunney provided a space at his restaurant in the Lakeview district. Minneapolis-St. Paul. Mayor Randy Kelly included car-sharing in a speech about sustainable development in the City of St. Paul, Minnesota. After this first public declaration of support, there have been few internal barriers in the city. "When you have it at the Mayor's level, and he gives direction to directors of departments, it happens pretty quickly," noted a staff member. (See Exhibit 6-3 for excerpt of speech.) Massachusetts. Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is pro- moting smart growth and sustainable development. One action supporting these policies is a capital grant program for transit- oriented development, which prioritizes funding for projects that incorporate reduced parking requirements. The program promotes car-sharing as one means of reducing the amount of required park- ing. (See next section, Adopting Supportive Policies, for details.) The new program is strongly endorsed by the Governor and is administered by the Office of Commonwealth Development, an overarching agency which reports directly to the Governor. Page September 2005 6-20
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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Exhibit 6-3 Car-Sharing and Sustainable Development in St. Paul "What Saint Paul and Minneapolis have done to promote sustainable development has been recognized nationally and internationally, and what we can do in the future is even more exciting!.... We are taking the lead in metro air quality by supporting hOurCar the Neighborhood Energy Consortium's new car-sharing program the first such program in the world that will have an exclusively ultra-low emission hybrid vehicle fleet. This program will reduce ozone-forming emissions across the metro area while improving transportation options for Saint Paul residents and businesses.... Both Mayors want city government that is smarter and wastes less energy, wastes less water and creates less solid waste at the same time improves performance and saves taxpayer dollars." Excerpts from a speech by Mayor Randy Kelly of St Paul, Minnesota, January, 2004. San Francisco. A policy resolution introduced by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will allow reduced parking requirements for developers who incorporate car-sharing into their projects. Aaron Peskin, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, is planning to introduce legislation that would require large new developments to identify car-sharing spaces. Car-sharing vehicles outside City Hall are also a tangible sign of support (Exhibit 6-4). Exhibit 6-4 City Carshare Vehicles in Front of City Hall, San Francisco Page 6-21
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Chapter 6 · Factors for Success Adopting Supportive Policies A policy climate that reinforces the benefits that can be obtained through car-sharing will help it flourish. These policies often begin with issues such as energy conservation, environmental protection, and parking relief. Car- sharing becomes one strategy to serve the larger purpose. Often, the policies are backed with specific grant programs to help with implementation. Minneapolis-St. Paul. As cited above, the City of St. Paul's focus on sustainability policies led to the mention of car-sharing as one tool to address the issue in its Sustainable Development Plan. Seattle. Similarly, the City of Seattle's staff inserted discussion of car-sharing in its Transportation Strategic Plan as a strategy to reduce auto ownership and related parking impacts in neighbor- hoods. "The Mayor really loved it," said a planner, and she was directed to pursue a pilot project and make money available to sup- port it. She said putting car-sharing into the Plan raised its profile and gave it credibility, "instead of being this crazy idea." Toronto. Toronto, Canada, which calls itself the Greenest City, cited car-sharing in its 2002 Environmental Plan. The Plan is pro- transit and pro-intensification, according to the program manager, and "AutoShare really fits in with that perspective." Toronto's Atmospheric Fund backs the Plan's policies with implementation dollars. Aspen. The City of Aspen and Pitkin County, Colorado launched the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP) in 2000. The long-term goals are to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in order to attain a sustainable energy future. The car- sharing operator, Roaring Fork Valley Vehicles, has received grants from Aspen funded by REMP, which imposes a mitigation fee on new homes that use more energy than the local code permits. Boston. The Citywide Transportation Plan in Boston, Massachu- setts encourages car-sharing by mentioning the need to provide parking for car-sharing vehicles. Car-sharing is incorporated into Transportation Access Plan Agreements for new developments with garages. Through this zoning provision, any office or residential building that will be built with a parking garage must provide the car-share company with parking spaces in the garage at market rates. Page September 2005 6-22
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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds Massachusetts. Similarly, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is drafting program guidelines for a transit-oriented development bond, which will include incentives to reduce parking spaces by providing car-sharing. See Exhibit 6-5 for details. Excerpts from the full document are included in Appendix D. Some businesses have their own policies that support car-sharing. The following three examples illustrate how businesses have dovetailed their company policies with supportive external policies or programs. Vancouver. Wallis Engineering, in the City of Vancouver, Washing- ton, decided to buy about 25 hours of car-sharing per month instead of purchasing a company car. The City's Green Fleet program, which is based on a policy goal of reducing commutes by single-occupant automobiles, offers free memberships to those who do not drive alone to work. Eight of Wallis Engineering's staff now are car-shar- ing members who use the service in lieu of a company car. Aspen. Bluegreen, a landscape architectural firm, is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a coalition of 4,000 organizations from across the building industry. The Council works to promote buildings that reduce solid waste, conserve natural resources, and minimize strain on the local infrastructure. In keeping with these principles, Bluegreen does not provide parking for its six employ- ees. All are car-sharing members, who bill clients by specifying the hourly and mileage costs for the car-share vehicle, instead of the traditional mileage charges for site visits. Exhibit 6-5 Car-Sharing in TOD Guidelines A total of $30 million is being proposed to promote Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Guidelines are being drafted under the Office for Commonwealth Development, which reports to the Governor. As stated in the guidelines, "The purpose of the TOD Bond Program is to provide financial assistance for key components of Transit Oriented Development: parking facilities, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and housing." Grants up to $500,000 will be available for qualified parking facilities; low-interest loans can be obtained for higher amounts. Municipalities must provide 20% in matching funds. The policy underlying the guidelines is "developing in ways that are consistent with the Commonwealth's Sustainable Development Principles." Under the guidelines, up to a 25% reduction over the standard parking ratios can be granted. One car-sharing space may substitute for 7-10 private parking places. Office for Commonwealth Development (MA), 3rd Draft Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Bond Program Guidelines, December 2004. Page 6-23
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Chapter 6 · Factors for Success Providing Funds Car-sharing needs time to establish itself. One study in the United Kingdom estimated that the lead time can be between 9-18 months to develop a critical mass of initial users (Parker, 2004). However, the operator must have the financing to purchase the vehicles and set up the system before the car-shar- ing program can ever begin, and must have enough in the bank to sustain the operation while membership is being built. Therefore, partners can play an extremely valuable role by assisting with start-up funds. In fact, 80% of organizations receive some form of financial support from public or private sources (Shaheen, Schwartz & Wipyewski, 2004). Partners interviewed for this research give a variety of assistance, including direct funding, apply- ing for grants on behalf of the operator, subsidizing memberships, offering in-kind services and materials, and supplying a line of credit. Examples of these types of assistance are explained in detail in Chapter 5. The following example shows the risks that can be faced in the start-up of a program, and how a partner's financial assistance contributed to a rede- sign. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities allocated to Translink in British Columbia a grant of $50,000, which Translink matched to market "Commuter Car Share." The Commuter Car Share pro- gram was terminated before the end of the pilot period because only three participants signed up to use a CAN car to travel to and from work. Participants had to pay for the car even if they did not go to work on a particular day. They were also reluctant to give up their own cars, since the program was only a pilot, not permanent. The grant is now being used for a redesigned program marketed to corporations. Businesses will have exclusive use of a car-sharing vehicle during the workday if 12 employees are signed up. Public members will have access to the car on evenings and weekends. With seed money from the grant program, Translink and the car- sharing operator were able to try out a program, recover from the failure, and learn from the experience to develop a more targeted approach. When partners share the risk with the car-sharing operator, both have a vested interest in making the program work. The preferred arrangement from the operator's view is a revenue guarantee. The operator will be more inclined to venture into less secure markets if all the risk doesn't fall on his Page September 2005 6-24
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Car-Sharing: Where and How It Succeeds business. And with its revenue on the line, the partner is more likely to promote the car-sharing program and help get it established. For example, the University of Wisconsin at Madison was interested in in- cluding car-sharing in its TDM program, a market Community Car had not included in its business plan. Therefore, to assist with start-up, the University bought 200 trial memberships for campus employees at $50 each, equal to a $10,000 subsidy. Similarly, Arlington County, Virginia gave six months of cash subsidies to Flexcar and Zipcar during the Pilot Carshare program for new car-sharing vehicles that were introduced into the community. Subsidies begin at $1,500 per month and decline to $500 per month, with revenue subtracted from the subsidy amount. The subsidy is discontinued if the vehicle becomes profitable before the end of the six-month period. These case studies of Translink, the University of Wisconsin, and Arlington County illustrate how a financial partnership can be critical in starting a new venture. Without funding assistance from a partner, experimentation and development of new markets for car-sharing is less likely to occur. Implementing Supportive Actions Communities and organizations may consider car-sharing a tool to meet their own goals, such as reduced parking demand or decreased pollution caused by the single-occupant automobile. However, car-sharing will become much more viable as a tool if it can operate in a supportive environment in collaboration with partner organizations. "If your community wants people to get around without a car, you need to realize it is a challenge (and) find creative solutions," said the TDM program director at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The University includes car-sharing in its TDM program and subsidizes the cost of the vehicles. In addition, it provides marketing and parking support, two of the five sup- portive actions discussed below. Other specific examples of the supportive actions that partners have pro- vided to enable car-sharing to succeed can be found in Chapter 5, which gives a comprehensive account of the strategies that partners have employed. This section briefly summarizes those strategies. Marketing Partners can assist car-sharing operators by giving them access to customers. For example, an employer can send e-mails and provide mailing lists as a communication channel for the operator. If the partner has a TDM program, Page 6-25
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Chapter 6 · Factors for Success car-sharing can be inserted into the overall marketing activities--outreach, promotions and transportation fairs. This direct access also gives the opera- tor credibility, because the employer is, in effect, sanctioning the operator's message. Administration Including car-sharing in a TDM program gives it a "home" in an organiza- tion. This increases the probability that car-sharing will be considered in policy decisions and will have dedicated staff to promote it. Regardless of whether an organization has a TDM program, partners can commit adminis- trative resources toward car-sharing, such as processing grants, lending office space, and providing an interface with other departments or agencies. Parking Making convenient and visible parking spaces available for the car-sharing vehicles is one of the most useful actions a partner can take. The operation cannot grow without adequate parking availability where members have easy access to the vehicles. Without parking in advantageous locations, the vehicles will be under-utilized and revenues will not be maximized. Spaces should be clearly signed and enforced in order to ensure that the space is available when the car is returned after use. Transit Integration Car-sharing is a complementary mode to transit. It helps the rider travel between the train station or major bus stop and an origin or final destination when transit is unavailable for this vital link. In turn, the transit partner does not have to bear the cost of unproductive "end of the line" routes, while still fulfilling transit's mission of providing mobility. Besides permitting car-share operators to use parking at their stations, transit operators can take a more proactive approach by integrating car-sharing with their fare systems. When transit agencies link with car-sharing operators, the two can give discounts on both car-sharing and transit passes. In Europe, the fares have been integrated into one smartcard for use on both systems. Memberships Partners can indirectly provide funding to car-sharing operators by becoming members. In this way, they help sustain the car-sharing program while also demonstrating leadership in promoting car-sharing and lending credibility to the idea. Some partners have gone a step further by replacing fleet vehicles Page September 2005 6-26