Carsharing has been praised for addressing many of the issues associated with ownership of a car, but as anyone who has ever owned a car knows, none is more pesky and annoying than the issue of parking. Carsharing and parking, or more specifically city policies on parking have had an enormous impact on each other – smart parking policies stimulate usage of carsharing, which in turn decreases the number of parking spots needed in a city. Now not only city governments are actively implementing parking policies that benefit carsharing but also real estate developers have found that utilization of carsharing, one way or another, allows them to save resources on parking – an investment every real estate developer hates to make as parking lots cost around $40,000 per lot to build and rarely make enough money for real-estate developers.
For example, in most cities where car2go operates in the US, its service includes on-street parking. This parking is free for a user, but not necessarily to the company, which might pay a fixed fee per car or use the free parking spaces specifically designated by the city for carsharing fleets. Free parking is a big advantage of car sharing compared to high rate parking fees for private cars, often exceeding $300 per month near office buildings and apartments.
It is not only the carsharing companies and their users that benefit from this parking arrangement between cities and car sharing companies. Cities and real estate developers save significant resources from specially designated carsharing parking areas. For example, the city of Austin was able to eliminate around 1100 parking spaces. The city achieved this by reducing minimum off-street parking by 20 spaces for every vehicle in a carsharing fleet. As a result, the city saved real estate developers over $38.5 million.
However, this type of programs aren’t always met with applause, as some urban dwellers feel cheated when parking spots are specially designated for carsharing, and they are unable to find parking spots for their private cars, a problem that is already quite acute. Last year, New York City announced that it would reserve 285 parking spaces exclusively for Zipcar and Enterprise Carshare for two years. Each company paid a small licensing fee and a monthly fee. This year San Francisco approved a similar program with 1000 parking lots on public streets exclusively for carsharing companies, with a monthly fee per space. While these programs have been met with opposition, they have proven to be successful.
Such availability of specific parking spots for carsharing is very beneficial for real estate developers. For example, in case of commercial office buildings, providing such parking lots incentivizes office workers to use carsharing service to their work, avoid paying parking fee while knowing that a shared vehicle will most likely be available near their office. This paired with some of the tax incentives, for example, as in the state of Washington where tax credits are offered for using employer-sponsored carsharing, decreases the usage of personal cars and the need for more parking spaces, saving money for developers. Other commercial building developers have provided their own carsharing services to get extra revenue and use existing parking resources more efficiently.
Office developers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the advantages of carsharing and parking space arrangement. Hotels also find it valuable to have special carsharing parking spots, decreasing the number of parking lots needed. This is quite logical, as some air travelers might prefer the flexibility of one way carsharing to renting a more traditional car.
Home developers are also increasingly including carsharing as a service into their packages. Some companies provide their own fleets and carsharing operation. For example, Audi has one such program, Audi at Home for inhabitants of one New York condo complex, with about 10 cars and $12 to $22 fee per hour. Having such a service uses the parking space more efficiently and decreases the number of parking lots needed at condo complexes.
With carsharing becoming so prominent, its multiplier effects can be felt not only on transportation but on residential and commercial complexes, making them more beneficial to urban dwellers and more efficient to real estate developers. While carsharing companies continue working with city administrations to form specially designated public parking for users of the service, real estate developers have also stepped up their game by providing car sharing services themselves or at least creating special parking spaces. No real estate developer can afford to ignore carsharing, as transportation becomes a service that is ultimately connected to a person’s home and other buildings where they spend most of their time.