Columbus City Council last night approved a plan allowing a for-profit car-sharing service access to residential permit-parking areas and some parking meters.
The plan creates a 12 month pilot program allowing the Car2Go company to compensate the city when its members use the parking spaces. Vehicles would be tracked with GPS to determine how much meter time they use. Car2Go would pay the city 50-thousand dollars up front and would pay quarterly for any meter use beyond that amount. Restricted meters and those that must be empty during peak times are exempt. Customers are charged a 35 dollar one-time registration fee and then pay 38 cents a minute, 14 dollars an hour, or 73 dollars a day. The idea is to allow members to pick up a car in one spot and leave it in another. The company wants to have 250 vehicles available for rental in a 34 square mile zone including downtown Columbus starting sometime in October. During a public hearing last week, Josh Moskowitz, the company's business development manager, told Council Member Michelle Mills the firm would work with the city on making the rental cars as affordable as possible.
Mills told Randy Bowman, Administrator of the Division of Mobility Options, her office has received several letters from residents concerned the Car2Go service would exacerbate parking shortages in areas including the Short North and Italian Village, particularly since the service comes when the city is in the midst of a pilot program regulating food-truck parking.
Car2Go has been looking at Columbus as a possible new market for two years. The company already offers its smart cars for rent in eight other U.S. cities, including Denver; Austin, Texas; Minneapolis; San Diego; and Washington D.C. The city says the program gives residents and tourists more on-demand transportation options.