Riding a huge wave of enthusiasm, Calgary’s newest car sharing program is posed to expand its service to the city’s post-secondary campuses.
With soaring membership numbers and an excited user base, car2go has become a hit in Calgary, surpassing even the company’s own projections.
“We’ve gotten an incredible response from people in Calgary,” says Katie Stafford, car2go Communications Manager for North America.
“And I know that a lot of these people are also students and hoping to have car2go on their campuses,” she said in an interview from the company’s base in Austin, Texas.
Stafford said that the company is currently in discussions with several Calgary post-secondary campuses, including SAIT, regarding the use of parking space.
“I think it’s a great service for students,” she said.
“It gives you the freedom to use the car when you need it, and you’re only charged for the amount of time that you use the car.”
While an official timeline has not yet been released, Stafford said that the company is committed to expanding its services in the coming months.
“We’re still just in our first 60 days of business, but these are the types of services we’re looking to bring to our customers.”
Some SAIT students, who are already car2go members, welcome the plans.
“I got hooked on car2go this summer,” said SAIT culinary arts student Eric Michaud.
“It beats the hell out of packing into a train every morning.”
Michaud said that while he uses his U-pass to commute most days, it’s nice to have another option available.
“Sometimes when I get to the train, it’s too packed and I have to wait for the next one,” he said, “This way I can just grab a car and drive to school.”
The program has also gained popularity with many Calgarians who work and live in the inner city and are sick of being left with few options when it comes to their commute.
“It costs me about $3 to get to work in a car2go, or $2.75 by bus,” said Patrick Mckillop, a Bankview resident and car2go member.
“And if I drove to work I’d have to pay $25 a day for parking,” he said.
Mckillop recently moved to Calgary from B.C. and put off buying a car because he didn’t see the point in paying insurance and upkeep on a car he would rarely use.
“Most of my friends either live downtown, or hang out here, so I really only need a car to grab groceries and go to work,” said Mckillop.
The program allows members to access to its fleet of Smart Cars, which are parked within a range dubbed the “home area,” for a fee of 35 cents per minute.
The user can then drive the car to their destination and park it at any Park-Plus curb-side parking spot, or lot, and leave the car for the next user.
The car2go “home area” stretches from 16th Avenue in the north, to Glenmore Trail in the south, and from Deerfoot Trail in the east to Sarcee Trail in the west.
The area covers not only the downtown area and all of Calgary’s inner city neighbourhoods, but the SAIT, Mount Royal, U of C and Bow Valley College campuses.
A smartphone application locates all of the available cars in the area and will even list the vehicle’s condition and fuel level.
Users simply scan their membership card on a card reader on the dashboard, and punch a pin into a touchscreen inside the vehicle, which releases the keys.
The fee of 35 cents per minute includes insurance, parking and fuel.
Members also have the benefit of being able to use the program in any of the 17 cities throughout North America and Europe that also have the program, including Toronto and Vancouver.