City officials to meet with Car2go after company pulls out of Calgary

File: Car2Go Calgary. January 2016. Loren Andreae / Global News

City officials will be sitting down with Car2go this week to discuss the ridesharing company’s decision to pull its operations out of Calgary.

On Friday, Car2go announced suddenly that it was ending its service in Calgary as well as multiple U.S. cities including Austin, Denver, Portland and Chicago.

“We are going to sit down this week with officials from Car2Go and have discussions on the background of their decision,” Ward 8 councillor Evan Woolley said Monday.

“Was it the city’s regulatory process that was a big part of that decision? Was it the global market at Daimler Chrysler? A whole bunch of things that I needed to know going into this.”

Woolley said the city needs to sit down with the company to determine the value of having another car share option for Calgarians, and whether Calgary’s regulatory framework is competitive enough to allow other companies to operate in Calgary.

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“If they’re able to operate in Vancouver and Montreal, why not Calgary?” Woolley said.

According to Car2go, the ongoing economic climate, increasingly competitive marketplace as well as their efforts to encourage the city to implement policy that better supported ridesharing companies were all factors in the decision to cease operations in the city.

“There’s been a lot of changes with the rise of Uber and other car sharing apps and companies, changes in the taxi industry as well as investments in public transit, so the market changes,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “As always, when the market changes, you have to adapt.”

But a senior transportation engineer with the City of Calgary said he isn’t sure what policy Car2go is referring to in their public statements on their departure.

According to Eric MacNaughton, the city made changes in 2015 that aimed to make it more affordable for ridesharing companies to operate within the city, including reducing parking rates in residential permit zones.

“In terms of residential permit zones, in 2015 they were previously paying $600 per vehicle per year and we reduced that price down to $450 per year, partly [because] just looking at what we were seeing in other jurisdictions in North America and trying to make sure our prices weren’t out of line.”
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MacNaughton said officials in the transportation department will be reviewing the policies in place following the meeting with Car2go.

According to Woolley, officials need answers to those questions before making any recommendations to council to change any of the existing policies.

However, Nenshi seemed against the idea of offering up changes to the current regulations to keep Car2go in the city, or going as far as offering a subsidy or further reduced rates for parking.

“It all comes down to math,” Nenshi told reporters on Monday. “If we believe that other people will park in those spots and pay the same amount, then we ought not to be offering subsidies to some people versus other people.”

Car2go launched in Calgary in 2012 with Smart Cars, and , added larger cars to its fleet in August 2017.

Earlier this year, the company considered Calgary to be one of its most successful markets, with over 134,000 users.

Car2go will be ending its service in Calgary on October 31.

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