Permanent street parking eyed for shared cars

San Francisco’s transportation agency is contemplating whether to make its on-street car-sharing parking program permanent.

Last Friday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency released its findings on a two-year pilot that allowed three car-sharing companies – City CarShare, Getaround and Zipcar – to use 200 curbside parking spaces throughout The City.

Andy Thornley of the SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets Division, shared the findings at the transit agency’s Policy And Governance Committee last Friday with some promising results.

The report found an average of 19 different users shared one car-sharing vehicle monthly and vehicles were in use an average of six hours a day.

The findings saw a high usage of car-sharing parking spots not just in the downtown area, but also in the western portion of The City including in the Richmond and Sunset districts.

There were some setbacks for both City CarShare and Getaround when it came to the availability of vehicles because of vandalism, theft or attempted theft of car-sharing vehicles, the report said.

The availability of Getaround vehicles were also affected because the company does not own its own fleet, as it is a peer-to-peer concept where the company relies on vehicle owners to make them available for members.

Construction and street closures also played a role in putting car-sharing parking spaces offline, said Thornley.

In the pilot, the SFMTA divided The City into three different zones, requiring at least 15 percent of car-sharing vehicles be made available in zones one and two, which included the Sunset and Richmond districts.

The pilot also required each company to have at least 75 percent of the car-sharing vehicles available at any given time for its members.

All three companies shared data with the SFMTA quarterly during the pilot that included the average use of each space and the average number of users using the space. The data for the report was collected between April 1, 2015 to April 1, 2016, the report said.

Thornley said car-sharing has a number of benefits including reducing the number vehicles people own or not owning one at all:

“By reducing car ownership rates, it reduces pressure on parking and increase mobility options.”

On Jan. 12 during the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Governance and Audit Committee, Supervisor Aaron Peskin held a hearing on the on-street car-sharing pilot.

Peskin said residents had concerns about parking spaces turning into car-sharing spaces especially parking spaces that no longer available to residents who have a residential parking permit from the transit agency.

He was also worried about Getaround.

Peskin said a Getaround member could sign up and get apply for up to four residential parking permits to use not just for car-sharing, but also for residential permitted spaces.

Thornley said at the hearing the SFMTA is the mist of restructuring it’s residential parking permit program and the transit agency plans to address the number of parking permits per household in the overhaul of the program.

Another concern that Peskin made with the company Getaround is when a vehicle is not available to rent, but parked in the designated car-sharing spot:

“You have turned a piece of the public realm into a private spot for an individual who lives in the neighborhood and that’s pretty perverse.”

Peskin also addressed street sweeping rules for car-sharing vehicles.

Currently, the car-sharing companies can remain in the designated car-sharing parking space even during street sweeping days as long as they clean and maintain the parking spaces themselves.

Peskin said this was giving preferential treatment to the companies and it was not fair for residents who get up early in the morning to move their vehicles while car-sharing vehicles can remain at the curbside parking space:

“There’s a fundamental sense of inequity.”

Thornley is aiming to send an operational car-sharing parking program to the SFMTA board in April.

Read the full pilot evaluation on the SFMTA’s website.