ULI British Columbia Blog

How Car Sharing Can Change Urban Development

written by Wendy Waters, ULI BC Mission Advancement Chair, GWL Realty Advisors

Photo 2016-04-19, 7 59 58 AMAs part of ULI BC’s “Next Million Series”, ULI BC held a panel discussion on April 19th titled “Car Sharing and Changing Parking Requirements


Sylvain Celaire from Modo (a car sharing co-operative) gave a background on car sharing in the Vancouver area.

Two types of car sharing:

  1. One-way car share is like a self-driving taxi. Companies like Evo and Car2Go allow drivers to book and pick up a car nearby and drop it elsewhere in the city, within certain boundaries (cannot be dropped in distant suburban locations, for example).
  2. The 2-way car share is more like a convenient car rental service. Modo and Zip Car are examples in the Vancouver area. Members pick up and return a car to the same location. Vehicles are spread throughout the city (in a home zone that typically does not include lower density, distant suburbs), parked on residential streets, in apartment/condo or office parkades, and other locations.

The benefits of car sharing include:

  1. An affordable alternative to car ownership
  2. Reduces congestion and pollution
  3. Saves time and money
  4. Reduces the number of cars in cities

From a residential developer’s perspective two-way car sharing allows for parking relaxations which is an incentive to residents in building that have Modo which in turn reduces construction costs for developers and improves housing affordability.

Brad Howard from PC  spoke about car sharing from a developer’s perspective:

  • In the beginning car- share was confusing and not as simple to include in developments. In 1996 car sharing went against the car companies and it was difficult to understand why people would want to give up their car to share one. All of these questions and concerns plus difficulty with partnerships added to development paperwork and costs.
  • One of the first project that PCI included a car share program for was a heritage loft project. PCI couldn’t get the minimum parking stalls so the City required them to put in a car share. The strata didn’t want anything to do with the car and it was eventually sold off. Today car sharing is a proven concept which is not mandated by the City. There are also no legal costs and the concept is easy to understand. Going forward it looks as if now you can sell units without parking stalls as car shares are in the buildings as people are now comfortable with car share.
  • PCI states that car sharing programs really work on high density mixed use projects. They are a great marketing feature and they reduce congestion and greenhouse gases. Also savings from parking reductions can be passed onto buyers or go towards care-share membership.

PCI projects where car sharing has been a success:

  • An example of where car sharing has worked for PCI is their “Oxford” project, a 98 unit residential adjacent to a bus exchange. Adjacent to this development in a surface parking lot are two modo cars.
  • Marine Gateway. Car share wasn’t required but one car was put into the project as there was demand from landlords, tenants and businesses

Adrian Bell from TransLink’s planning department spoke about the relationship between car sharing and transit.

  • Car sharing provides a solution to “the last mile” in which suburbanites come into the core on transit, and then can get to their appointments with a two-way car share (booked in advance). One-way car sharing can provide a solution to “the first mile” in which suburbanites could reach the closest transit station
  • Looking ahead, Fully automated vehicles are set to arrive in 2020 and will start in fleets, this is the next step after car sharing. People will share a self-driving car service instead of needing to drive themselves.

Group discussion:

Are there any best practices here or anywhere in the world, connecting car sharing to developments or to transit? Are there any obstacles that we still need to overcome? (Parking design?)

  • Adrian Bell – Transit could subsidize car shares with other transit systems such as car share to get you to the train and then a train to a bus like they do in Switzerland with the Swiss National Rail. This system connects all forms of transit including car shares, trip planning and payment all in one mode and one payment system.
  • Help with some transfers (for the last mile of someone trip for example.) Many car shares are not outside of the downtown core of Vancouver. More density is required to ensure that all car share programs are out in the suburbs to make this profitable
  • Best practices would reduce parking requirements as an alternative to one car. No parking requirements and link all mobility options.
  • Brad Howard – Vancouver is leading the way with car sharing in North America but this may be likely due to the geography of the area that means that we are forced to come up with creative planning

With demographic changes over time. Is there a change in uses between millennials vs older people?

  • Sylvain – Modo members come from all ages showing a large representation from millennials as well as a lot of older people that are downsizing and therefore do not need 2 cars as they are living in more urban location. These people are very comfortable with technology as you can book using an app but also just by calling customer service to book a vehicle as well
  • Adrian – Attitude to car sharing has changed and is more inclusive of all age groups. Other car sharing services such as Uber does not seem to attract the older generation as much
  • Brad – PCI has found that car share members in his developments are in their 20s and 30s who have grown up with the car sharing program

Boomers will embrace Uber. Uber is coming…. How will Uber impact car sharing?

  • SS – Modo and other 2-way car sharing is more like a rental car service; due to the 2-way nature of the service it will likely not be affected by Uber
  • One way services like car2go could be affected by Uber; if it costs $5 to use Car2Go and $8 to use Uber, many will select Uber as it allows them to relax or get work done on a smart phone or tablet.
  • Uber can work out in the suburbs

Final comment on relationship between Car Sharing and Autonomous Vehicles

Adrian – If autonomous vehicles get developed will they be shared or used by individuals? If shared, then kids will be picked up by cars and dropped off at soccer practice for example. This is a completely different form of car sharing than what we have today.

Download a copy of the speaker presentations here.

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