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Car-sharing in Colorado

Millions of miles, lots of money

Morgan Tilton //March 30, 2015//

Car-sharing in Colorado

Millions of miles, lots of money

Morgan Tilton //March 30, 2015//

With the urban battle-for-parking scenario worsening in Colorado’s metro areas, smart cars offer a glimmer of hope. The pint-sized vehicles can be squeezed with ease into smaller curbside spots, and they’re available to car-share members anytime.

Owned by the car-share company Car2Go, the fleet of Denver’s 450 eco-friendly smart cars first hit the streets in June 2013. Now, less than two years later, the Colorado-based business has increased by 150 cars and is up to 31,000 members. More than 2 million miles have been driven in Colorado since their launch — and that’s just measuring Car2Go miles.

Upping the Auto Ante

From a Chevy Silverado truck to a Ford Fusion sedan, Aspen’s Car To Go program has nine pickup locations and a variety of vehicles. The nonprofit eGo CarShare is up to 55 vehicles – compared to its initial 13 in January 2009 – throughout Denver and Boulder. Zipcar, operating in the Mile High City and Fort Collins, also launched in 2013. And, in April 2014, Enterprise Holdings acquired Occasional Car for people zipping around the Denver metro area.

Many Coloradans opt for car-sharing because they don’t drive much and they’d rather do so without the financial burden of car ownership, said eGo CarShare Assistant Director Alyssa Alt. Considering the costs of purchase, registration, maintenance, insurance and parking, a set of wheels racks up a hefty price tag. Other members see car-sharing as an opportunity to lower their carbon footprint.

“Coloradans are utilizing Car2Go to alleviate congestion, reduce emissions and maintain quality of life,” said Car2go Location Manager Mike Pletsch. He pointed out that a single company’s vehicle is used by multiple people daily, reducing the overall number of vehicles on the road. 

Convenience and increased mobility are the top two reasons Colorado members give for car-sharing, according to the 2013-2014 Denver Car-Share Program Assessment for Denver Public Works. In that survey, 91 percent of eGo CarShare, Car2Go and Zipcar users noted those points as the incentives for membership – followed by parking flexibility.

Denver cares for car-share

The city of Denver first partnered with car-share businesses in May 2013.

With the intent to reduce parking demand and miles traveled, and to enhance mobility for car-share members, the City and County of Denver established regulations and parking permits for wheel-share services. To date, Car2Go, eGo CarShare, Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare have all acquired annual parking permits, with two choices: dedicated space permits for vehicles that have one designated spot, or free-floating area permits for metered parking spots.

In the program’s first year, the street permits, which range from $250 to $750 per spot, accumulated $349,000 in revenue. To date, second-year permit sales total to $413,000 since June 2014. But the program is revenue neutral: The permit costs cover loss of meter revenue, value of on-street space and program administration costs.

Retail boost

Typically, car-share members are middle-class professionals who live downtown or in an adjacent neighborhood, according to the Denver Public Works’ assessment. Most are single, or if married, without children. Those members may be saving money through car-sharing—but where does it go?

Most members use car-share for entertainment-related excursions such as trips to the theater or concert outings:

44 percent of members car-share for entertainment at least once a month.

70 percent of downtown employee car-share members indicated they car-share for non-commute trips to downtown.

(Source: 2014 Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) Survey of Downtown Employee Car Share Membership)