Want a Car2Go “Station”? Let them know!

Car2Go made good on their threat from a few months ago and announced a reduction to their service area (or as they call it, “home area”) yesterday. Here’s the new map (effective March 15):

new car2go home area map as of March 2016

new car2go home area map as of March 2016

And you can click here for more information about the new home area:


With large portions of North Minneapolis and, uh, most of Saint Paul now outside the Home Area, many Twin Cities residents will no longer have access to the car sharing service. Car2Go states that they reviewed usage data and people in these areas weren’t using the little blue and white cars enough to make serving those areas worth it from a business standpoint. Certainly, a density of available cars is critical to users being able to get the most out of the system. Ironically, I’ve used Car2Go a lot less since moving to North Minneapolis. Why? Because there weren’t enough cars close to my home. I can pick up a car downtown to drive home from work, but getting TO work in the morning, I might have to walk halfway to the office before getting one.car2go

Should Car2Go have tried to encourage more users in these areas before cutting them off? Probably.

Are they obligated to serve these areas the way a public transportation agency is? Nope.

There is probably a larger conversation here about the role of a private, for-profit company in filling a gap in our region’s transportation system. Some of the areas cut out of the Home Area are lower-income neighborhoods that have seen a pattern of disinvestment in the past. Personally, I would think access to an on-demand/don’t-have-to-pay-to-insure-it personal vehicle would be really attractive to those trying to make ends meet.

How much outreach did Car2Go do to get people in these neighborhoods into their system? Clearly not enough.

In the meantime, Car2Go recognizes there will still be some demand for their service outside the Home Area. Enter the Car2Go “Station.” There’s not a lot of information yet on where these stations will be located, or how they will work, but Car2Go is soliciting input on where to put them.

Want to have access to a designated Car2Go parking areas near a destination outside the Home Area? Email Car2Go at: memberservicesNA@car2go.com and tell them where.

Think they should maybe do more outreach than posting an email address on their website? Tell them that too.

Hannah Pritchard

About Hannah Pritchard

Hannah Pritchard is a pedestrian and bicycle engineer at MnDOT. Bicycle commuter, bassoonist, and cat enthusiast, Hannah has been part of the streets.mn board since 2016.

16 thoughts on “Want a Car2Go “Station”? Let them know!

  1. Janelle NivensJanelle

    I’m glad you’re helping get the word out about the change in service area. I hope that people in the affected areas provide feedback. I wish the usage data would be made public or at the very least I could follow a car I drive. I say this because I live just at the border of the new service area. It’d be interesting to know how long the car sat somewhere before it was moved and if it was moved by another member or a Car2Go employee.

    I use Car2Go after long walks all over the Twin Cities metro when I’m too tired to return home on foot or too impatient to wait for a bus. I’ll definitely miss that flexibility and am hopeful the station concept works better than some may think.

    Before the shrinkage i was hopeful the service would expand and that suburbs would use the station concept. I like to be able to visit my friends who live in West St. Paul, Eden Prairie, and Shoreview. I was thinking that it’d be terrific if there were Car2GO parking spots at those suburban malls or shopping centers.

    I’m curious where in Minneapolis/St. Paul streets.mn readers would recommend putting stations.

    Great first streets.mn post, Hannah – you got me thinking!

    1. Anton SchiefferAnton Schieffer

      Totally agree that I wish we had more access to the data generated by Car2Go. I’d love to know where and for how long certain cars sit without being used, for example. The city of Minneapolis does have a small bit of leverage here to ask for that, as they provide free parking at meters for Car2Go cars.

      That data could be used to compare Car2Go service areas with areas where car ownership is low. I live fairly close to the downtown core without a car (but with good access to transit), and I’m pretty sure Car2Go’s business model is aimed at people like me, though I’ve never used it. For me, access to a car would be a nice occasional luxury but I depend on the bus or a bike to get somewhere.

      But in areas of the city that have less access to transit, car ownership is more of a necessity so naturally Car2Go will be less popular in those places. Improving transit across our city should reduce car dependency and make people more likely to use car-sharing services.

        1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

          I think this new agreement will need to be revised in light of the car sharing ordinance passed recently. In fact, I think the service stations Car2Go is offering outside the service areas are a direct result of the ordinance. The car sharing draft ordinance was crafted in part to ensure access to parts of the city that may not get it in a purely market-driven world. I’m not sure it’s 100% perfect, but I supported it.

  2. AJ

    I think local governments should use their leverage with ROW contracts to make sure certain neighborhoods are not left out what were once city-wide amenities.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

      So the Nice Ride project from last year was really interesting because it got me thinking about the challenges of planning a “sharing” system, and the trade-off between geographic equity (i.e. coverage) and service. This is a fundamental tradeoff in planning anything like transit, and bike or car-sharing have to deal with it.

      The key takeaway is that bike- and car-sharing only make sense in “low-car places” like downtown. These kinds of systems work in tandem with density, transit, and mixed-use walkability. While they might be nice to have in our more suburban parts of Mpls and StP, the vast majority of usage is going to be in places where people can replace car ownership (not just car trips) with a suite of these alternatives: bicycling, walking, transit, Uber, and sharing systems. The vast majority of usage will be in places where people don’t own cars. Look at the map and that’s what car2go is doing, just like what Nice Ride had to do.

      If we want more car2go in the rest of the city, we need to build housing with fewer mandated parking spaces, start charging for parking, add bike lanes, boost transit. You can’t expect a private for-profit company like this to “lead the way” in what should be an integrated land use and transportation conversation. We need to build low-car urban neighborhoods.

      For example, if we built rail transit on West 7th Street, I’d bet car2go would add the West 7th neighborhood to its coverage area in a heartbeat.

  3. Brad D

    Brad here from car2go.

    Hannah is right that we are gathering feedback on where our members would like to see satellite parking locations. We understand why some impacted members are disappointed in the change, but we are confident that these satellite parking options will be a good solution for many of our members. Yesterday, we called more than 100 car2go members whose trips are most likely to be affected by the change to our Home Area. We wanted to take the time to speak with each of them directly and invite their input on where satellite locations would be most convenient for them. Those conversations were productive and we have some great new ideas for parking locations. Any other member feedback is welcome at twincities@car2go.com, and of course we’ll let our members know as soon as we get these parking options up and running.

    @Janelle – we are careful about the usage data that we make public to protect our members’ privacy. However, we have shared some general data about what led to this change. For example, only 1 in 10 car2go trips occurred in the areas being removed from our revised Home Area. In high demand areas throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, every car2go moves up to 14 times each day. Cars in the low-demand areas were sitting for more than 24-hours at a time. That wasn’t good for us, and certainly wasn’t good for members in higher traffic areas. We want our car2gos to help people get around town, not take up parking spaces for days at a time.

    We believe these changes will help address the vehicle availability concern that Hannah mentions in her post, and limit concerns about car2go vehicles taking up space in low-demand areas. As always, we’ll be listening to our members to ensure we are continuing to make our service more relevant to their transit needs.

    1. Nick

      It would be fun to look at where the cars did sit for a day or more and use that as a sign that those parking spaces aren’t needed. Maybe some bump-outs or traffic chokers would be a better use of that space 🙂

  4. GlowBoy

    I live about half a mile below 54th (in Diamond Lake area) so I’m being moved out of the car2go service area. I haven’t used car2go a lot since I moved to Minneapolis, but I do sometimes use it to avoid a transfer if I want to catch an east-west #46 or #23 bus, or to catch a bus at the 46th/I-35 station. I’ve also considered using it to quickly get to the 46th/Hiawatha light rail station, but haven’t done so yet.

    Bottom line is I’m one of the few people using car2go in my neighborhood, and I’m likely to use it less now. Frankly one of the reasons I don’t use the service very often is because even a quick mile and a half trip ends up costing $3-5 depending on traffic. Since I’m often using it to solve the last-mile-and-a-half problem in connecting to sparse east-west bus routes in South Minneapolis, it’s hard to justify when I live near the #5 almost-hi-frequency route and am usually getting a free transfer anyway. Oh well.

    I acknowledge their usage problem: my area is pretty low density. I’ve rarely taken a car from my house because there’s rarely one within a few blocks. When I’ve taken one home, sometimes it disappears within a few hours, and sometimes it sits for a day or two.

    I do hope they’ll consider a station in the Diamond Lake area (i.e., between 35W and Lake Nokomis, not just in SW Mpls and Keewaydin areas, which are probably more likely to get them). Then again, I see that there are often car2go vehicles parked near 60th/Nicollet, which is close enough for me to consider walking the mile or so to use them. That would probably be a good station location.

    I also hope car2go would consider adding bike racks to their cars. Don’t laugh – they equipped all their Portland cars with bike racks a couple years ago. This greatly helps their ability to enable multimodal commuting.

  5. GlowBoy

    Just emailed car2go with my suggestions. Another idea, in addition to what I wrote above: Since we’re now moving the boundary up to 54th, I thought it might make sense to look below the old Crosstown Highway boundary, to 66th Avenue.

    I know 66th is a strip, not a point, and that makes it harder to serve with the “station” concept. But it’s by far the biggest commercial zone near the places being eliminated from the Home Area in south Minneapolis. A lot more major shopping by far-south-Minneapolis residents is done on 66th than within the city, and 66th is also the route of Metro’s only Hi-Frequency bus line that runs entirely outside the core cities: the #515.

    Pinpointing a good station location on 66th would be difficult, because of the length of the strip, but there are definitely areas of higher density use. Southdale comes to mind first, but there’s also the Richfield Parkway area (Target, Home Depot, etc., next to Cedar Avenue) as well as the Hub at Lyndale/66th. I could see those being useful car2go parkspots someday.

    Realistically, with 66th starting to undergo a massive 2-3 year long rebuild it probably doesn’t make sense to start up car2go stations there now. Construction related delays will strongly deter car2go members from going there, when they’re paying 50 cents a minute for the privilege. But it might make still sense to consider stations – at least near Southdale – once the street is rebuilt.

  6. Jim

    This really stings. I work near the Capitol and live in Camden. Metro Transit plus walking takes me 90 minutes, biking takes 70 minutes, but car2go took 30 minutes max (even in rush hour). Car2go was a really handy option for those times you need to have a car in your pocket (needing to rush home for family care or to get home late night after transit is sporadic, get to civic meetings after work, or avoiding the extended freezing cold waits outside). I mainly used it to come home. I am hopeful that when C-Line BRT service begins that my neighborhood will become more “low-car,” which may be able to make it more suitable for car2go to be used well by more people in the area. Though, when the D3 and D4 route alternatives were considered for Bottineau LRT (Blue Line Extension), my area scored highest on density of “transit dependent” population, which you would think also qualifies as “low car” and would make car2go a desirable and well-used option in the area. However, there is also the lowest rates of drivers licenses for driving-age eligible people, which results in “no car” over “low car.” I guess I am just tired of seeing Camden consistently cut out from various transportation planning decisions (Nice Ride is removing the North Library location, car2go is cutting Camden, and the Bottineau LRT D1 alignment chosen is skirting most of areas where transit is used most already, not to mention the problems and missed potential with the approved plans for Olson). D4 or D3 would have been great). I digress.

    I am concerned that the satellite location implementation will be delayed indefinitely. The gap between when home zone is reduced and satellite stations are added is currently unknown. It depends on approval from Public Works and how quick car2go submits their completed application for satiation locations, which will require approval from impacted people in properties adjacent to the on-street parking areas (potential conflicts with NIMFYs). To expedite the satellite implementation, I think car2go should use membership and mapping data from users being cut out to determine the best satellite locations. I also think this would be most fair, despite my selfish desire to have a satellite location in front of my house or the house across the street from me, who is a huge NIMFY by the way;)

    Also, car2go may want to roll out all 6 satellite stations at the same time, so a delay with approving one could delay the expedient implementation of all 6. I understand the simultaneous roll out, but I don’t think it’s right. Each satellite should start as soon as it is approved. I also find it disappointing considering that there will be a delay. Since the service zone reduction has been in the planning pipeline for 6 month, this gap in service should have been avoided. The home zone reduction & satellite stations should start at the same time. I’m most concerned that the gap for 55412 being without service will be indefinite. We’ll see how the next month goes. I am hopeful that Public Works & car2go are diligent about getting the satellite stations started as soon as possible.

    Thanks for reading my vent. I guess this will force me to start biking more again, and that is a good thing, right?
    I will miss car2go and wish them well. Sniff sniff.

  7. surge

    An alternative to shrinking the zone is dynamic pricing. You park in a low usage area, you pay more. You park in a high usage area, you pay less.

    1. Craig

      Or you take a car from a low usage zone, you pay less. You take a car in a high usage zone you pay more. Like spike pricing, but we can take the high-usage as the base and see it more like pothole pricing for the outlying areas.

  8. Craig

    While they didn’t make all the data public, they did let users know in the email that “In the lower use areas we found that vehicles sat 75% longer than in high demand areas, ultimately affecting overall vehicle availability for members, as well as parking in the Twin Cities community.” Thus, if cars parked for an average of 10 minutes within the remaining zone, they sat for 17.5 on average in the outer zone.

    Because we don’t have access to the statistics of how many cars were in the lower-use areas, we don’t know exactly how much more car-hours of parking that equates to. However, as GlowBoy attests, in these low-use areas, there is also already a lower availability of cars. Also Brad D from car2go reports “For example, only 1 in 10 car2go trips occurred in the areas being removed from our revised Home Area.” This means that 10% of trips are starting at a frequency of 57% the frequency of the revised Home Area (1/1.75). Let’s simplify this and say that the frequency of the outer area is half of the frequency in the inner area. If there was 1 car in each zone, this would indicate that only half of all trips was started in the outer zone. But since only 10% of trips are started in the outer zone, this means we have a disproportionately small number of cars parked in the low-frequency areas. It all checks out.

    But because the proportions are off, it means that we could have a situation where 200 cars sit for 1 hour on average in the high-use zone, and 44 cars sit for 1 hour 45 minutes in the outer zone, approaching the published frequency of use numbers and the ratio of number of trips in the outer versus inner zones. Parking isn’t in as high of demand in the low-use zone, so they aren’t taking as “expensive” of spots either. Thus we have 200carsx1hr = 200 car*hrs wasted in the high use zone, and 15cars*1.75hr = 77 car*hrs wasted in the low-demand zones. The cars in the low-use zones are only wasting 77/277 =28% of the total parking time used by the car2go system, whereas the central cars are wasting the other 72%. Thus the cars in the high-use system appear to be worse for the city in terms of “sitting around”. I would tend to argue that instead of further restricting the use of the cars, if we developed a system of car2go outreach, leasing of parking spots, and pricing of trips to encourage a wider net of use, the system would be both more efficient and more equitable to the city at large.

    Either way, it doesn’t seem to be as big of a gap as car2go is marketing it at. I know from experience that they did surveys about how users perceive the company, and I wonder how much latent classism and racism may have been drawn out in these surveys. People in the outer reaches may have also responded that they won’t miss the service as much, but there may be other reasons such as them already relying on a cost-effective busing and grabbing a ride from a friend, or that not enough effort was made to have enough cars available to them to get the numbers up.

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