One-way car-sharing consultation to be held June 11

By Tracey Arial

The city of Montreal will hold a public consultation about one-way car-sharing in the city on June 11. No location has been set.

It will likely be held by the Commission de l’environnement et transport.

One-way car-sharing allows subscribers to use smartphones to pick up a car anywhere in the city and drop it off somewhere else.

This new type of automobile usage is a good way to improve transportation mobility,” said Réal Ménard, the executive committee member responsible for transportation in Montreal. “The City of Montreal must continually improve our transportation network. We’re looking at self-serve one-way car-sharing in that light.”

The city does not intend to run the service, but plans to contract it out to a private company. Ménard said two companies have expressed an interest in setting up the service for Montreal: Communauto* and Car2Go.

Communauto versus Car2Go

Communauto is a Quebec-based company started by its chief executive officer Benoît Robert, in 1994. It has 49 employees and operates services in Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Gatineau and Paris.

Car2Go Canada Inc. is a Vancouver-based fully-owned subsidiary of the Daimler North America Corporation from Montvale, New Jersey that is run out of Austin, Texas. It was originally registered in Canada on February 11, 2011, just a few months prior to the launching of a one-way car-sharing in Vancouver on April 28, 2011. Communauto immediately sent a press release begging the City of Montreal to provide free spaces for its vehicles in return for one-way service expansion in Montreal that same week.

Car2Go has since launched services in Calgary and Toronto as well as Vancouver. The company officially registered in Quebec on March 18, 2013.

In his press conference two weeks later, Ménard said that he doesn’t expect a one-way car sharing service to cost the city anything, other than the parking facilities necessary to run it.

Parking spots becoming rare in Montreal

Parking spots are extremely contentious in the car-sharing arena, however, as a carefully worded press release by Communauto later the same day implies. “The decisions that the City of Montreal will take on the access to the necessary parking to allow for the proper functioning of this type of service will determine Communauto’s decision to embark or not on this new path.”

Communauto estimates that 300 new spots will be needed for one-way car-sharing, and it already rents about that number for its current two-way service.

Does one-way car-sharing have same benefits as reserved car-sharing?

In the same press release, the organization also took a mini-swipe at its competitor.

“If current car-sharing with reservation offers, such as those offered by Communauto, have proven that they are able to reduce the number and the use of the car, it is not yet the case for the one-way car-sharing systems that have recently been implemented in numerous cities around the world. Thus this service offers interesting research possibilities for Québec universities and ideally the City of Montreal should pay particular attention to this part of the project.”

Will car-sharing in Montreal begin next year?

Ménard will invite the Société des transports de Montréal, Stationnement de Montréal, the taxi industry and citizens to participate in the public consultation next month.

If all goes well, he expects one-way car-sharing in the city will begin by the end of 2013.

Note: The author of this article is a member of Communauto.

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