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Manhattan Beach doubts car2go

Fleet of car2go's Smart Fortwo mini-carscar2go has been launching in cities across the US and Europe since it was established by German automaker Daimler four years ago, and many are loving it. Plans have been announced for the car sharing scheme to launch across nine cities in the South Bay region of Los Angeles from next year. The proposal includes between 300 and 350 two-seater cars being distributed across the region. The rollout would include the cities of Torrance, Lomita, Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale, El Segundo, Redondo Beach, and Hermosa Beach. However, the final city, Manhattan Beach, is concerned and doubtful about the programme.

Walter Rosenkranz, the business development manager for car2go, highlighted the programme’s benefits – including point-to-point, short-term hires that don’t force the customer to return the vehicle to the original rental location. He explained that network members can hop in a vehicle in one area of town and end the rental in another part of town without worrying that the car has been returned to its initial location.

Manhattan Beach City Council questioned the logistics of car2go and is worried about intensifying the city’s struggle with having enough parking. The car sharing programme requires exemptions from parking restrictions and will compensate cities for the lost parking revenue. However, the council says this isn’t their main concern.

Mayor Pro Tem David Lesser says he’s concerned about vehicles parking for extended periods in metered bays. He noted that car2go vehicles will occupy a precious supply of parking spaces in the north and downtown areas. However, Rosenkranz says that the programme has had success and quick turnover in similar downtown areas, like Portland and San Diego.

Council member Richard Montgomery then questioned if Rosenkranz even knows Manhattan Beach, as the residents and socio-economic model isn’t the same there as other cities. Parking, he added, is an all-time demand. He and Lesser both won’t support a trial of the car sharing scheme for more than a year – much shorter than the three years car2go proposed. Manhattan Beach Mayor Wayne Powell then asked what would happen if the city opted out, and Rosenkranz explained that it would make it harder to implement the programme across the region due to the lack of defined city boundaries.

The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) has studied travel patterns in the region for five years, finding that most residents’ journeys last less than five minutes (except commuters), and it supports the idea of car sharing. It’s their hope that the scheme will ease the need for households in South Bay to have two or three vehicles.

SBCCOG executive director Jacki Bacharach says that they will have 14,000 new vehicles in the region over the next eight years, and there are concerns about where they will go. The cities need to think about the alternatives residents have for keeping these cars and not to have them. She also noted Manhattan Beach won’t get the programme unless they are part of a bigger group. car2go is the only car sharing company that says they will launch in the South Bay and make a deal with nine cities, where they are willing to invest over $4 million.

 

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