Shared Mobility Thoughts


The shared mobility blog.

SMCI: Top Cities for Mobility in Density and Parking by Jessica Szelag

Feb 5, 2017

Is your city ready for shared mobility? Look at the cost of parking as described in the 2017 Shared Mobility City Index.

In almost any city newspaper or blog, you can find a passionate comments section of citizen’s demanding “Bring on Uber!”, “We want our own car2go!”. Usually these comments appear in response to proposals to change bus service, an open house on a major street construction project, or even a city council member returning home from a trip to Washington, DC or Seattle and enthralled by their ReachNow or Zipcar One-Way experience.

These aficionados of car share have an equally loud, and passionate, counterpart. For every one person who wishes there were more shared mobility service providers in their city, you’ll find double the number that won’t dare let anyone touch their on-street parking or raise parking garage costs.

2017 Shared Mobility City Index Results

movmi’s 2017 Shared Mobility City Index (SMCI) report though, shows those cities that are putting pressure on parking are setting up to get the shared mobility services they’ve wanted.

Three cities in the 2017 SMCI not only grew faster than their peers, but also increased their average monthly parking prices more than any others. San Francisco, Denver, and Toronto are growing by leaps and bounds and are doing so while paying attention to the true cost of parking.

This is good news for shared mobility providers since often a city’s parking policies, or lack thereof, can create a huge barrier to entry for new companies to launch in a city or even expand.

A city’s stance on parking can have a huge effect on the success of other transportation services available. If it’s easy and cheap to park in a downtown area, why would anyone choose to take a car2go or ride with Lyft to get around? Pricing on-street parking and prioritizing off street parking in garages frees up the use of a street’s curb space for an assortment of other beneficial uses, such as deliveries, travel, and shared mobility uses.

SMCI 2017 Parking & Land Use Rankings

movmi’s SMCI 2017 ranks 20 North American cities on who is most likely to attract shared mobility service providers and where those services are most likely to succeed. Ranking cities based on 5 index measures: Urban Density, Commute Patters, Sustainability Plans, current Shared Mobility Services, and Parking Prices, the SMCI uses a weighted scoring scheme to determine which cities are doing all they can to thrive in the sharing economy and which ones may have some risks.

While Commute Patterns, Sustainability Plans, and Shared Mobility account for 85 out of the 100 points available, the difference between a city making into the top half of the SMCI often comes down to their density and parking costs.

Cities Shared Mobility Service Providers Should Consider

San Francisco, #4 in the SMCI 2017, has many challenges to contend with as it continues to grow, including with regards to parking. San Francisco has the right kind of density though, with 18,440 residents/square mile; making it second to only New York City in the SCMI 2017 for density. San Francisco can be expensive to get around if you want to travel by car, but with some of the best transit service in the country, a monthly downtown parking rate at 4.3% of the annual median income (or $320/month) encourages residents to consider alternative ways to travel.

Denver, the fastest growing city in the US, added over 18,000 new residents in one year according the US Census Bureau. While not the densest of the SMCI cities at 4,461 residents/square mile, Denver increased their average monthly parking costs to 2.9% of the annual median income at around $170/per month for a downtown parking garage. That’s a 77% increase from the 2016 SMCI scoring. It’s no surprise then to see Denver move from #15 to the #11 spot in the 2017 SMCI.

Toronto, the largest and fastest growing city in Canada, reaching over 6 million residents in its metropolitan area, boosts a high population density of 11,400 residents/square miles and downtown parking at 5.0% of the median income at $315/month. Ranked #7 in Parking and #8 for Density, Toronto is well positioned for shared mobility service providers to consider.

Many factors go into considering whether to launch in a new market and no one factor tells the full story of how a shared mobility service will be received. The SMCI 2017 helps validate which cities are moving in the right direction by looking at 29 criteria over 5 categories, with parking and density playing key roles as leading indicators of success.

If city officials or the comments section of a local newspaper say car sharing or TNCs is “the thing” to solve a city’s transportation woes, look to the SMCI 2017 to see how they rank for parking costs and density.

Today residents want fast, cost-effective, and convenient connections to their destinations and that often means by paying for better service rather than paying for parking. Pricing parking accordingly recognizes there is a cost to the space used for parking and not everyone can park right in front of their favorite store. Instead, creating an attractive market for shared mobility services by charging more for monthly parking allows more people to choose better ways to get around for an even lower cost.

~ Jessica Szelag is a transportation and land use professional who loves cities. Jessica worked on the update to the 2017 SMCI report and currently can be found in Anchorage, Alaska focusing on bike and trail policies.

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