Old coverage area (left) vs New coverage area (right)
Old coverage area (left) vs New coverage area (right)

Just six weeks after the Seattle City Council took up expanded car sharing in the city, Car2Go has announced an additional 250 cars and an expanded service area that finally brings service to the entire City of Seattle. From the press release:

“Since our launch in 2012, car2go’s unique point-to-point service has seen rapid adoption among Seattleites, making it the highest membership base in the U.S. with over 63,000 members and nearly 2,000,000 trips to date,” said Michael Hoitink, Location Manager for car2go Seattle. “Our immense growth has been a true testament that car2go is on a very sound footing as a successful player in the mobility market, and we look forward to continuing our path in better serving our valued members in Seattle each and every day.”

Beginning today, car2go will provide an additional 250 smart fortwo car2go edition vehicles for shared use in Seattle, increasing the total fleet size to 750 vehicles within an expanded 83 square mile Home Area, where members can pick up and drop off a car2go. car2go allows members to use the service by the minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – without committing to a specific return time or dedicated location.

750 brings Car2Go to the limit enacted by the city council. While other rideshare services have expressed interest in the Seattle market, for now Car2Go is the main game. The 50% boost in capacity should make it a bit easier to grab one in your particular neck of the woods.

43 Replies to “Car2Go Expands Service Area and Adds 250 Cars”

  1. Wait… the maps seem to indicate that the U District, in particular the main business district between 15th and Roosevelt, are “stopover only”. Am I misreading that?

    1. I’m assuming that to be a mistake in the map. 15th Ave. is a public street and there is no reason for it to be “stopover-only”.

    2. Yeah, it’s been like that for years.

      The U District is absolutely saturated with transit. Take the bus!

      1. As is downtown, yet people still drive Car2Go there.

        If it is indeed a misprint, I hope Car2Go can correct it.

    3. Not sure what’s up with their graphical map, but the interactive map on their homepage shows what the cars will actually let you end a trip. 15th is allowed; though it looks like the border runs along the northbound lanes of 15th, where there is no street parking anyways.

  2. This is great news, and hopefully the program can one day expand to the denser parts of neighboring cities also. With point-to-point car-sharing, there is a huge network effect – the more destinations are included in the area, the more useful the whole system becomes.

  3. The city needs to raise the cap. Cars2Go are already sparse, this raise just keeps the density the same, when it needs to increase. I’d like to see at least 250 more permits issued.

    1. There is an individual cap per-licensee (750 if the entire city is covered, as car2Go will now do) and an overall, larger cap, for all roaming car share services (4 services max, 3,000 max permits if all four have 750 cars). The idea is to not let one company have all of the car sharing permits.

      1. Yes, but that’s a bad experience for the user. I don’t want to open four separate apps to check for four separate floating car-share services. I just want one, good experience.

      2. It also depends on what a “good experience” is. Sometimes, a good experience is more than two people; and unless Car2Go adds something other than a Smart fortwo to their fleet.
        And you can always use an app like Transit to show everything on one map in one app.

      3. *SIGH*

        City Council needs to learn some economics. I mean real economics. Apologies, I’m going to shout here.

        A car-sharing system is subject to NETWORK EFFECTS. Like roads, railways, phone lines, Internet service, water distribution, etc. This means that it has LARGE ECONOMIES OF SCALE. As such, it is a NATURAL MONOPOLY. The correct way to deal with natural monopolies is to make them REGULATED UTILITIES.

        Like Stuart says, nobody wants to join four separate car-share organizations. Therefore, there should be only one. If it isn’t offering appropriate-sized cars, that should be made a requirement of the city franchise agreement…. you get the idea.

      4. I disagree. The car-finding app could be a natural monopoly, but the policies and ownership of the cars seems as open to competition as anything else. What are the actual disadvantages of their being owned by multiple organizations, if you can see all organizations’ cars on the same map and choose one based on policies as well as location?

  4. What is the minimum income bracket to which car-sharing is of any use at all?

    Mark Dublin

    1. I don’t get your meaning Mark – its cheaper than owning a car… Its cheaper than a cab or uber x.

      For people who need a car semi-regularly but can use transit most of the time its a great cheap option.

      1. I understand the cost considerations. Maybe a car-sharing service can save me a lot of what I’ve been telling the blog I’ve been spending on cab fares because Metro local service is just too slow.

        But I guess what I’m wondering about is for working people at the lower income levels, how much expense and effort is there for simply accessing the system? For instance, is a “Smart Phone” necessary?

        In addition to a hand- coordination problem that makes touch screens very difficult to use, I’m very uneasy with the smart phone technology itself. But to keep this [ON-T],could I use Lyft, Uber, or Smart-To-Go with my simple cell-phone?

        So my worry is a lot more of an class thing than a financial one. It may also be a question of advertising. Are these services being marketed to many average passengers on the Route 7, or the east end of the 3 and the 4?

        Any clarification, much appreciated. BTW: does anybody else wonder how much the car-sharing industry- or transit information “apps” take the pressure off to make the transit system work?

        Mark

      2. I imagine you could use Car2Go without a smartphone, but it would be more difficult. The smartphone app allows you to see where the nearest car is and reserve it while you walk over there. Without one, you would need to either find a computer to look at the map before leaving, or walk around looking for a vehicle until you found one. And with only 750 of them in the entire city, you could be walking for a while.

      3. In reply to Mark, I use Car2Go without using my smart phone. I check availability and reserve cars on a laptop. My smart phone is an older model that doesn’t show the Car2Go map very well, and I have adjusted easily.

    2. In my experience car2go is about 70/75% of what a taxi would cost. The low income taxi fares from the county are a 50% discount, so I guess car2go might be around 50% higher than the low income far limit the county sets.

      1. Though that might be a poor comparison because car2go is significantly cheaper than owning a car if you don’t drive much.

      2. Since it’s by the minute car2go cost depends on the speed (which can encourage risky driving but that’s another issue). At freeway speeds it’s about $0.50/mile (1/5 the cost of a cab). Slogging across the city at rush hour though is considerably more expensive. That’s one of the reasons it works well as a compliment to the bus system: at rush hour there are buses everywhere so you shouldn’t need car2go, but when you need to get to King St station at 7:00am on a Sunday the buses aren’t frequent enough but the roads are clear.

      3. Other factors to consider:
        – Unlike UberX, Car2Go does not have surge pricing. While Car2Go is only marginally cheaper than UberX on a normal day, it can be way cheaper on a Saturday night.
        – In many areas of the city outside downtown, walking to the nearest Car2Go is often faster than waiting for a taxi or UberX to pick you up. It also has the advantage that you have more control. For instance, a Car2Go trip within North Seattle will not be delayed by a marathon run downtown, but an UberX trip might, depending on where the driver is coming from.

  5. Most of the mainstream local media coverage of this change has focused on the “loss” of 250 parking spaces (though – its probably more like 150, and far leas than that if you consider utilization – but why bother with facts when you can get in on a parking whine?)

    Incredible.

    1. Yes it would no doubt be better if C2G users bought their own cars and stored them all the time.

      1. Careful, Martin. Gas, insurance, license fees, maintenance and on-site parking are a lot cheaper than vet bills and stable costs.

        But I look at my car as a good natured reliable work horse that really doesn’t belong on freeways, in suburban traffic, and parking spaces where I’d need a broom and shovel before I could leave.

        Also, probably very much like in the early days of the interurbans, a very large percentage of rural passengers indeed left their horses and carriages at paid or rented stables at the last station in the grange service area.

        Intercity Transit takes one hour to go the 30 miles between Olympia and Tacoma- comfortably usable for me re: napping, reading, and a coffee stop in Tacoma.

        But usable regional transit, especially after a movie ending at 9 in Seattle, ends at Tacoma Dome station. So I frequently drive the 30 miles to Tacoma precisely because I want to use transit.

        Which by ST Express, Sounder, and LINK via the 574, works very well. Need for car share or taxi starts at King Street Station, IDS, or Westlake.

        But also getting active in getting ST to and from the place I, and an increasing number of prospective passengers, live.

        My hope is that good transit sevice to Olympia will arrive by the time my car, or me, or both take our last ride to the ‘vet.

        Mark

      2. In the short term, it is a loss of 250 parking spaces, in the sense that 250 people aren’t going to immediately give up their cars the instant Car2Go adds 250 cars to their fleet. The reduced car ownership that comes with increased car sharing takes time and happens gradually over a period of years.

    2. Ridiculous. Now I’m kind of disappointed that local media didn’t interview me when I bought my car, causing the loss of 0.05 parking spaces (roughly the amount of time I’m parked on a city street).

      Car2Go is subject to our punitive rental car taxes and it also pays $1730/year for each car to cover parking, which will generate an additional $432,000 this year on the 250 new cars. So this is really a cash bonanza for the city – it locks in new guaranteed revenue by monetize existing streets a little more while residents get another useful travel option. Now, if only the media could report that story…

    3. I know I shouldn’t be surprised when local media jumps at any chance to promote the ‘war on cars’ angle but this seems even more ridiculous than usual.

      Shouldn’t Car2Go actually IMPROVE parking? If a person drives their private vehicle to let’s say, a movie, they park it for the entire three hours they are there. If that same person shows up in a Car2Go there is a decent chance that someone will grab that car and take it elsewhere before the movie ends. Maybe it only sits for half an hour and now that parking space is open 2.5 hours earlier.

  6. Slightly disappointed that Boeing field (on airport way) has been excluded, a lot of people work there are relatively low income, have no bus service, and would love to ditch their cars

      1. Sore point there too, Martin. Just had this discussion with an otherwise transit-savvy Seattle City Councilman.

        Like I keep pointing out from a couple of decades experience: the way we live our lives now, west of the Cascades and east of the Sound, Seattle’s city limits are effectively the northern suburbs of Vancouver BC and the southern ones of Portland.

        Look next flight in clear weather, look down from a jet and observe the roofs and everything paved-before you have to slam the shade down and watch the Jim Carey movie to end the horror.

        Only hope of being able to drive that stretch above parking lot speed, with present forests of malls and warehouses for scenery, is to do with transit what motoring has come to do for cars and trucks.

        Which is to adjust land-use for humans in its- and our- own image.

        Mark

      2. Huh? Boeing field is in Seattle. Are the streets around Boeing Field actually excluded on the map? Or just the actual runway parts of it?

    1. I fit the typical Car2Go user to the extent that I drive semi-regularly and take the bus to work, however within a few blocks of my home (Gatewood, Highpoint-WS), I only see one Car2Go car pop up for use once every few months.

      I also see arguing for more Car2Go cars dangerously leading our local and county political structures to believe that they don’t have to fight/advocate for more light rail or any other improvement/expansion of the transportation infrastructure if we have those rental tin cans to drive around in as a last resort. Furthermore, the advantage that the rental car users have in not paying for metered parking is an unfair one that will blow back in public outcry as rental car use becomes more commonplace.

      1. Car2go users don’t pay for metered parking directly, but that’s all bundled into the minute rate and the negotiation with the City of Seattle. If we calculated the time the cars spend sitting in the metered spaces and the amount car2go pays for the privilege of operating in Seattle, I wonder how it would come out.

        And public transit is cheaper, and you can’t always count on a Car2Go still being around, so I’ll definitely still be advocating for better improvements in the transportation infrastructure.

      2. Car2Go is great for occasional trips, but $5-10 each way is still way too much for a daily commute that happens 250 times a year. The need for transit isn’t going anywhere.

  7. I love Car2Go, but I find it increasingly difficult to find a car when I need one. I work in South Lake Union. I typically leave for the day after 6. There are no cars — ever — available in the evening. Middle of the day it’s a different story, but that’s when I rarely need one.

    I’m glad the geographic area is bigger and there are 250 new cars. But with 60,000+ members, I think 750 cars just scratches the surface of demand. The city ought to pull the cap and let Car2Go grow to meet demand, whether that’s 1000 cars or 2000 or …?

    1. I don’t understand why there is a cap at all. They are paying us for every permit and a Car2Go in a parking spot is almost always a better use of the spot than a private car.

      1. There is no good reason for a cap, but your City Council has some…. weird economic ideas. Educate them, perhaps?

    2. Given what the car2go availability map looks like on any given weekday (fully half of them sitting within six blocks of your office), you might want to start looking at your coworkers to solve the case of the disappearing vehicles.

      Seriously, though… SLU is all the evidence needed to show why car-sharing is an adjunct to effective mass transit, not a replacement. It doesn’t matter how much you raise the caps.

      You should consider busing out of SLU on the first bus headed remotely in your direction. It will be very rare not to be able to find one to reserve later along your route. I do this habitually when leaving the car2go vacuum of Capital Hill anytime in the late evening.

  8. Clarification: For average person, term should have been “travel”. Though like Brian Bundridge will doubtless confirm, service envisioned will also be a blast and a half to DRIVE! Especially under catenary

    Mark

  9. Gotta admit, I’m a little disheartened by the expansion north to 145th for entirely selfish reason. I live on 128th and with the former border at 130th, there were always cars available nearby as people would park there and just jump on a bus further north.

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