San Francisco may give more parking spots to car sharing companies

| May 22, 2014

According to car sharing companies, one key bottleneck in car sharing gaining momentum is the lack of parking spaces. Now, to help them ease into the city, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is set to approve fifty on-street car-share parking spots.

“It opens up a lot more of the city to car-sharing,” says SFTMTA director Ed Reiskin. “Generally, on-street parking will always be here.” The move comes on the heels of SFMTA’s successful pilot of 12 on-street car-share parking spots.

How it works

Eventually, .3% of the city’s on-street parking spots, or 900 spaces, will be assigned to car sharers. Currently, the program is limited to car sharing companies like City Car Share, Zipcar, and peer-to-peer ones like RelayRides.

One-way car share companies like Car2go are not eligible. “We have some concerns that it could actually work in the other direction — that one-way [car-sharing] could actually encourage more driving,” says Reiskin.

The SFMTA aims to have 450 on-street parking spots available for car sharing companies by summer. It is keen to encourage car sharing as it believes that car sharing reduces vehicle ownership.

Car sharing

A car sharing spot in San Francisco. Image by sfcityscape.

According to a 2010 study cited by the SFMTA, a shared car replaces up to 13 private vehicles.  Some people choose not to buy cars, others (who seldom drive) give up their cars or their second cars after car sharing.

Other benefits include a reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). According to one estimate, a shared car could lead to 18,000 fewer VMT annually. So the SFMTA is hoping that by giving parking sports on the street to car sharers, more people will become aware of this option.

On-street parking sports for car sharers will also be more convenient. Currently, car shares have to park off-street.


Still, not everyone is happy with the move. Some people with spots next to proposed car-sharing spaces feel that “their” parking is being taken away. The SFMTA’s piloting the initiative for two years, so it may tweak the program as it gets more data on how popular it is becoming.

Car sharing companies are exempted from parking fees in Washington DC, as we covered in an earlier post.  The SFMTA will charge a monthly fee from car sharing companies, depending on the zone in which it is providing on-street car-sharing parking spots.

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Category: Parking, Transportation

About the Author ()

A graduate in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, India, Nupur also has an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University. Nupur is currently trying to be as savvy a cook as she is with a book. She likes watching plays and sunsets. Nupur first lived in Kolkata and then for a decade in Delhi, still her favorite city.

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