Is it OK for car-share operator car2go to encourage its customers to use street parking in Toronto, even though the city won’t issue the company a street-parking permit?
Car2go allows its 47,000 Toronto members to share a fleet of 440 smartcars. It differs from other car-share services in that it allows one-way trips: users can leave cars parked in street spaces to be picked up by other members.
But on-street parking is a scarce resource in many Toronto neighourhoods. There are restrictions on how many permits are issued and even residents with a permit sometimes struggle to find parking near where they live.
Car2go has so far been unable to convince the city to issue a permit that would allow Car2Go to street park beyond the hourly limits.
So what has it done in the meantime? The company has told its users to “drive it and park it on street and don’t even worry about all the crazy parking restrictions.”
In an interview on Metro Morning Wednesday, the company’s Toronto general manager Mark Latchford said car2go staff work to move cars that are parked on the street and aren’t picked up by another user. In some cases, the company is paying parking tickets, treating them as a cost of doing business.
“We really don’t want to congest traffic, or over-saturate certain parking areas,” said Latchford. “We want our users to use the streets where they live.
“We have 30 locations in the world and Toronto is the only one that doesn’t have on-street parking access.”
But isn’t the company occupying spaces set aside for paying residents?
Latchford said his service allows some families to reduce the number of cars they own, which saves street space.
“We’ve been working with the city for over five years,” he said. “We would pay for a permit up to double what the most expensive permit would be.”
Latchford also said having his fleet cars parked on the street, as opposed to underground garages or distant lots, makes it easier for customers to borrow the cars and keep them moving.
“It’s a lot easier for us to be on-street instead of off-street.”
Getting the universal permit, which would allow the cars to park overnight on residential streets, won’t be easy.
Coun. Stephen Holyday, who sits on the city’s public works and infrastructure committee, has said he wants city streets kept clear for resident permit holders.
“We’ve got residents coming in looking for a front yard parking pad because they are so frustrated looking for a parking spot,” he said.