Parking is a difficult art to master as a carshare operator. For operators, parking is one of the cornerstones to building a successful carshare program. As numerous studies have shown, including Vancity’s carsharing survey, convenience is one of the most cited reasons people use carshare (Vancity 2018). This usually translates to having a vehicle within 500m walking distance for members, as movmi’s Super User Survey conducted in 2017 found (movmi 2018). While parking is a source of competitive advantage, it can bring headaches as well.
In this blog post, we share more for carshare operators, and let you know the critical insights about shared mobility and parking.
Carshare Operators: Shared Mobility Parking
From an operator’s perspective, parking can be an intensive effort – even just from the business development perspective. Depending on the city, some operators will have to negotiate parking on a parkade-by-parkade basis. If carshare permits are offered by the city then it’s usually a painless process (but can require periodic reporting); however, if there are no permits available this could require lobbying.
Once the company has obtained parking the headache doesn’t stop there because members will incur parking fines. Parking fines are a huge cost to carshare operators – and the city. In Toronto, carshare companies have accrued over $6.5 million in parking fines since April 2016. While most carshare operators collect the parking fines from members who incurred the fraction, as shown in Figure 1 below, there is an administrative cost that the operator incurs to track down the member and collect fees. Some operators charge an administrative fee to the member (e.g. $5) but this does not always recoup the actual cost to the operator.
Figure 1: Parking Fines Incurred by Toronto Carsharers
Carshare Parking: Where the Municipality Comes In
That said, parking can be a headache for the municipality too. Complaints from residents and accruing parking fines makes the City pause to support carsharing. As we can see from Figure 1, the City may not collect all parking fines incurred by carsharing companies. In particular, car2go in 2017 has not paid over 65% of the incurred parking fees. For residents, some get frustrated that their parking spots are taken up which forces them to park further away (Nazareth 2016). When carsharing vehicles sit idle for a long period of time on residential streets this also infuriates residents. While carsharing companies devote a team to relocating these vehicles from sitting idle too long – it doesn’t always happen.
Thus, some cities feel the pressure to reduce the amount of residential parking carshare companies have access to. Toronto City Council in particular felt the pressure from residents which resulted in making 10,000 parking spots off-limits to carshare companies and increased parking permit costs ($1,500/permit). This resulted in car2go recently shutting down operations in June 2018 because these new conditions were too strict and made operations inoperable (Rieti 2018).
Parking for the Carshare Members
From a members perspective, carsharing can give them access to prime parking locations at a fraction of the cost compared to parking with their own vehicle. However, parking can be difficult to find if the company doesn’t provide clear information on where to park – and if a spot is available in real-time. If members can’t easily find parking spots, members get frustrated because they’re spending time and money that they don’t want to be using. This may result in members purposely illegally parking and/or even deter people from using the service in the future.
Thus, how can we make parking a pleasant experience so that members can easily find legal parking spots which, in turn, reduces parking fines? To help alleviate the problem, solutions such as SpotAngels can help members know easily where to park. SpotAngels provides on-street and off-street parking maps with information such as parking restrictions, detailed spot counts and parking prices. If linked to a carshare service, it can easily inform the member based on their location if they can park there or not. Recently, SpotAngels & Parkimeter formed a strategic partnership to further enhance their capabilities (Business Insider 2018). This could be an interesting feature for carshare companies to offer in the future – letting members book their parking spot in advance.
Parking is a blessing and a curse for both operators and members. Providing a seamless experience so members know where to park is imperative. If this is done well, it will differentiate you from the competition. If it’s not done well, this will rack up parking fines, strain relationships with the City, incur additional operational costs and frustrate members.
While the parking conundrum is still not fully solved, it is encouraging to see that technology solutions could help alleviate this problem. This makes us wonder how technology could solve other operational and member pain-points.
Which carsharing pain-point do you think technology could solve next?
You can share your ideas at our webinar on July 19th or ask us questions about our thoughts on the latest carsharing technology trends discussed in our second edition of Selecting a Technology Vendor.
SpotAngels & Parkimeter form a strategic partnership
Montreal car2go slapped with parking tickets
Toronto car2go = $6.5 million in parking fines
movmi Shared Transportation Services. Carsharing Industry Analysis: The Problem of Fleet
Relocation. 2018. https://movmi.net/car-sharing-industry-analysis-whitepaper/
Vancity. Changing Gears: Exploring the car-sharing culture shift in Metro Vancouver. 2018.