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‘Attractive’ Calgary carshare market opens up with car2go departure

Despite car2go’s planned departure Oct. 31, the Calgary carshare market is a good one, said the co-founder of their Edmonton counterpart, Pogo.

Late last week, car2go announced that Calgary was among five North American cities that would cease carshare operations later this month.

The company cited an evolving transportation marketplace as a primary factor in their decision. In a letter to Calgary members, they also said there were ongoing efforts to encourage the city to implement policies that better supported carshare. They said over 10 years they learned you need baseline criteria to be successful.

“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,” read an emailed response from car2go last week.  

This past Monday, councillors were informed that the city wants to meet with car2go officials and that administration would be surveying Calgarians on the impact of carsharing on citizen mobility.

Civic partnerships critical for successful carshare: Pogo co-founder

One of the co-founders of Edmonton carshare Pogo said that civic partnerships are the cornerstone of a successful carshare in any city.

“You want good collaboration and cooperation in working together,” said Kieran Ryan with Pogo.

“I think cities need to understand that these types of services are very important in people giving up their personal vehicles.”

Ryan said that if they want more people to use transit or other active transportation choices like biking or walking, they still need the use of a car for 10 to 20 per cent of their travel.

“I think something that you see is the policies cities put in are not really supportive of carsharing,” he said, noting things like paying more for parking or paying for parking permits.

One example he gave was residents with personal cars may not get charged for parking in front of their own home, but a person using a carshare would.

“There’s many different policies that impact carshares. But just having the city understand that a carshare really adds to a city, it’s part of the transportation network. And you really want to have policies that don’t discriminate against carshares.”

Pogo Carshare in Calgary?

Pogo operates about 90 Hyundai cars in Edmonton, Ryan said, and while they have a similar app-based model to car2go, their pricing encourages drivers to use it for longer periods of time – more of a replacement car instead of direct point A to point B.

Ryan said it’s too early to provide a direct response on whether they – or their national partner company Communauto – would come to Calgary.  He did say that they would need to understand more about why car2go pulled out of the city.

“I’ve heard people say the fundamentals don’t make sense. But I disagree with that. Calgary has a dense enough core; it has enough density and a lot of young people – carsharing should work.”

Communauto was founded in 1994 and is in 13 Canadian cities. They entered into the partnership with Pogo Carshare a little over a year ago.

Calgary carshare an attractive market: Communauto

Marco Viviani, VP of strategic development with Montreal-based Communauto, said Calgary presents a very attractive market, should the city be open to a collaborating.

“We think that a city has to recognize that carsharing is a part of the transportation policy they can put in place for a more sustainable mobility,” Viviani told LiveWire Calgary.

“What we search for in a city is, first of all, collaboration, so that we can find the best options to introduce carsharing, develop it in the easiest way, respecting goals.”

Viviani pointed to Calgary’s carshare cluster parking. Carshare operators are required to move cars when several are parked within the same ParkPlus zone. He also noted the two-hour parking zone restrictions that could be costly, as companies are required to pick up the tab for parking fines or towing.

RELATED: Calgary Carshare Parking Policies can be found here

The rules for Calgary carshare aren’t the most restrictive, Viviani said. Each city has their own unique rules for carshare. He said Calgary has one of the lowest permit costs in Canada.

Viviani said that his interpretation of car2go’s departure was that there were more reasons than just policy restrictions.

Calgary on Communauto’s radar for some time

Communauto has had their eye on Calgary. When car2go left the Toronto market last year, they were able to supply service to that city.

When asked if they would consider a move to Calgary, Viviani was cautious.

“We think we can play a role in several Canadian cities. For sure Calgary is an important one,” he said.

“We’ve looked at it in the past and now that things are different, it’s something that could be considered.”

It’s not a question of how quickly they could mobilize a fleet locally. For Viviani, it’s more important to establish the right civic partnership.

“I think it’s really establishing the collaboration that is needed with the city. And to understand, if we are welcome and we can work to make a successful project, or we are we could be considered just a company that comes to bother transportation in the city,” he said.

“I would say that we believe that Calgary has an attractive framework to build a good carsharing service.”