Seattle reports out after one year with Car2Go on the city streets

When Car2Go wanted to start operations in Seattle, city administration officials made the sharing of operational data and member survey data a requirement of the pilot project. With this data, transportation planners would be able to understand the dynamics of introducing new mobility into an ecosystem of existing modes. Last week, the Seattle Department of Transportation published their analysis of Car2Go’s first year operating in the Emerald City.

SDOT reported that Car2Go had permits for 330 cars in January 2013 and increased that number to 500 by the end of the year. 35,000 Seattle residents signed up for the service and 96% of those who responded to a survey indicated they would recommend the service to others. This is consistent with the way Car2Go has moved into the carsharing landscape in other cities. In just four years, the company laid down more than 10,000 ‘Smart-for-Two’ vehicles in 27 urban centers in Europe and North America and claimed more than 500,000 people as Car2Go customers.

So Car2Go is popular and growing rapidly, but what are the impacts on parking, public transportation, private car ownership and vehicle miles travelled? The report shows that Car2Go paid the City more than $630,000 for parking privileges and that its vehicles occupy less than 0.7% of ‘parking space hours’. 47% of users reported that they use public transit less often since joining Car2Go. 41% indicated that they sold a car or were reconsidering the need for a private car after joining Car2Go. 35% of users reported a decrease in total miles travelled in their personally-owned vehicle.

The report states that it is unclear how free-floating carsharing is affecting broader transportation choices in the city, but it also recognizes that that Car2Go is one element of a larger transportation network including public transit, bike, pedestrian, auto, taxis, bike share, transportation network companies, etc. The ways in which people utilize each of these systems will change as new options become available.

There are some encouraging signs in this report that demonstrates how carsharing developments and improvements in public transit are causing people to reconsider private car ownership. As more attractive alternatives to the privately-owned car come to market, it’s important for cities to better understand how these new mobility modes interact with one another. NACTO cities are already sharing their experiences with integrated multi-modal systems that address the problems of traffic congestion and air quality in our communities.

The CarSharing Association is supportive of new mobility providers sharing their data with cities to help build seamless integrated mobility across modes. Seattle has provided a great example of how government can be transparent and accountable to the public for changes in the transportation network, and at the same time, maintain the confidentiality of proprietary data provided by mobility innovators.


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