News / Toronto

Car2Go accuses city of dragging its feet on free-float parking proposal

The car-sharing company's proposal sought to expand the parking options to residential streets and exempt users from the three-hour limit.

Car2Go wants the city to approve a pilot project to expand parking spots into residential areas.

Torstar News Service

Car2Go wants the city to approve a pilot project to expand parking spots into residential areas.

Serious changes could be coming to a Toronto car-sharing company following the delay of a pilot project on buying parking permits in residential areas.

Car2Go, which boasts a fleet of 350 cars in Toronto serving more than 75,000 customers, said it has been forced to re-examine its activities. The review comes after city council's decision last week to postpone discussions on a free-float pilot project, sending city staff back for further study.

Currently, customers can pick up or drop off the blue and white Smart cars in municipal parking lots. But the proposal sought to expand the parking options to residential streets and exempt users from the three-hour limit.

In a note to its subscribers, which Car2Go also shared with Metro, the company accuses the city of dragging its feet on an innovative project that could help ease traffic issues, among other benefits.

"City council’s refusal to take a serious approach to a free-float carshare policy will eventually force more Torontonians to buy their own cars. And that will only make the problem worse," wrote Car2Go North American president and CEO Paul DeLong.

He said council's 30-2 vote last week is especially discouraging, given the city's own transportation services department had previously backed the idea to launch the free-float pilot. Car2Go says the model is already in effect in a dozen North American cities.

The company did not reply to direct questions on whether a total withdrawal is being considered. However, it did say any changes will be communicated to its subscribers in advance so they can plan accordingly.

If approved, the pilot would likely cut down on parking infractions, which are extremely costly for car-sharing companies. According to the city's revenue services division, Car2Go was slammed with $1,124,936 in total parking fines last year, up from $847,152 in 2016.

Enterprise and ZipCar also incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in parking fines, according to city staff.

Coun. Mike Layton, a five-year Car2Go subscriber, said he hurriedly moved the motion to defer the discussion after realizing many councillors had misconceptions about the car-sharing service. He worried the item could lose as a result.

"Questions were being asked about whether or not cars would all of a sudden start backing up on residential streets with no parking permits," Layton said, noting the Car2Go service area extends only to Jane-Eglinton-Victoria Park and the waterfront. "No one is parking in North York overnight because you don't rent the car for six days but for six minutes."

He hopes more time will allow for better understanding and lead to a favourable vote for the pilot.

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