The City Council on Wednesday passed legislation requiring the city to dedicate parking spaces to car-share companies for a two-year pilot and car-ownership study.
The bill aims to reduce the number of car owners in New York City while also freeing up more parking, according to Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine, the bill’s sponsor, and city’s Department of Transportation, which has supported the idea.
“There are 1.5 million families in New York City that own private cars and most of those cars most of the time sit unused, which is why it’s so hard to find a parking spot in almost every neighborhood in the city. We have to give those New Yorkers another option—especially for folks who live in neighborhoods without good transit.”
Owing a car costs on average about $9,000 a year. While car sharing costs typically include an annual fee ranging from $35-$75 and an hourly rate of $8-$15. By moving car share companies from private lots onto city streets, Levine hopes the added convenience will wean people off car ownership.
Similar legislation has passed in cities like Baltimore and San Francisco. In Seattle, the city reported last year that 14% of members of “point-to-point” car share members gave up their own vehicles after joining the service. A 2010 review of studies in cities including Philadelphia and San Francisco, found that 23 to 32 percent of round-trip car share members left their vehicles behind for car share services.
The city is already in the process of launching the pilot, which could come as early as this summer, to establish 300 dedicated street parking spaces as well as another 300 more spaces reserved in municipal lots.
“I believe car share could be a good use of public space that will benefit everyone,” said Polly Trottenberg, DOT commissioner, as she announced the pilot during a City Council Transportation Committee meeting this past December. She added that she was originally skeptical of car share’s potential until she had seen more studies on the subject. “Our pilot will test all of this out, and we will report back on whether these benefits materialize on our streets.”
The DOT will also be looking to see if car sharing, versus car ownership, reduces congestion and emissions, as it hopes. More details regarding space locations and participating companies are expected to be announced this spring, according to a DOT spokeswoman.