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Carshare company car2go to end service in Calgary

Calgary is among five North American cities that will no longer have car2go service, after the company made the announcement Friday.

One Calgary city councillor, however, is looking at ways to keep carshare alive in the city.

According to a post on the company’s website by Maxmilian Ehlers, the company “made the difficult decision to exit the following cities: Austin, Calgary, Denver, Portland.” Those cities will be shut down Oct. 31. Service in Chicago will end Dec. 31.

The car2go service is a described as a free floating carshare, and their blue and white Smart car vehicles were well recognized around the city.   

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Ehlers wrote that the company underestimated the resources needed to make the service successful in an environment where mobility options are rapidly changing.

On the company’s Calgary specific website, they shared that they are ending service in the city Oct. 31.

“We are grateful to every Calgarian who supported us over the years and we regret any inconvenience caused when service ends October 31,” the site reads.

Calgary welcomed the carshare service in July 2012 and at one point the membership exceeded 65,000 in the city, according to a 2014 Calgary Herald article.

The City of Calgary had created special car2go parking zones that utilized spaces where regular-sized cars wouldn’t fit. The cars could also be left in these spots and exceed parking time limits, according to the city’s website.

The company said it would be focusing efforts on New York, Washington DC, Montreal, Vancouver and Seattle.

‘Caught off guard’ with car2go leaving: Woolley

 Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley said he was shocked to learn that car2go ending service.

“This is a big deal,” he told LiveWire Calgary.

“It caught everybody off guard completely.”

Woolley also said that even the local Calgary car2go team wasn’t aware of their fate until earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the city needs to reflect on whether or not their transportation policy was a factor in car2go leaving Calgary, Woolley said. He’s already been in touch with the mayor’s office and senior transportation administration.

“We need to sit down with them and say, ‘is there an opportunity for you to continue operations’?” Woolley said.

Should car2go’s decision to leave Calgary be certain, Woolley said they’d need to look at other options to fill the void – including reaching out to other carshare companies.

With winter coming, Woolley said car2go represented a primary mobility option for tens of thousands in Calgary, and they’d need to ensure that there were both enough Uber operators and taxis on Calgary streets to capture the demand. Woolley said he uses the carshare nearly every day as a one-car household.

Baseline criteria needed for car2go to succeed: Spokeswoman

In an email response to LiveWire Calgary, car2go spokeswoman Kendell Kelton said that over the past 10 years the company has learned you need baseline criteria to make carshare successful in a city.

“Those characteristics are as follows: densely populated urban cores, low vehicle ownership rates, a diverse and thriving mobility landscape, robust public transit options and strong city partnerships,” Kelton wrote.

She added that rapid changes in mobility options forced them to make changes, too. When asked if the introduction of bikeshare and escooters in Calgary impacted the operation, Kelton said they supported multi-modal transportation.

“The rapid growth and popularity of these new mobility players means that – more than ever before – people are embracing shared mobility options to move around the cities in which they live,” she wrote.

“What this ultimately means is that the need for personal vehicle ownership is declining, and that itself is a good thing.”

Kelton didn’t specifically answer direct questions about potential Calgary municipal policies that may have played a role in the company ceasing operations.

“Were there to be a day in which we felt conditions were better suited for free-floating carshare in Calgary, car2go | SHARE NOW would certainly consider the possibility of resuming service there,” Kelton wrote.