Car-sharing service Car2Go will soon expand from Minneapolis to St. Paul.
The city council on Wednesday approved a deal that allows German company Car2Go to park 185 of its tiny cars on St. Paul streets starting next month. Car2Go has a fleet of 350 vehicles in Minneapolis.
Car2Go will pay St. Paul $975 per car annually, around $180,000. That fee pays for parking spots taken by the vehicles, as well as administrative fees. The city can change that fee after the first year, based on the actual parking charges.
"We've been kind of chomping at the bit to be able to get this up and running," said Josh Johnson, who manages Car2Go in the Twin Cities. "Allowing crossover between the two cities is very exciting for us."
Potential Car2Go user Theresa Cain, who lives just across the Mississippi River from downtown, urged the council to make the deal.
"If I leave this meeting and I have a half hour to wait for another bus, which is an 8 minute ride for me, I would've taken a Car2Go if it was available," she said.
Cain, who works for Metro Transit, says car-sharing programs can help supplement the existing public transportation system.
But council member Dan Bostrom worried that vehicles could end up sitting at meters all day.
"What we're doing is turning the right of way over basically for private industry," he said. "I don't see this coming out well for the city."
But council member Amy Brendmoen said the kinks of the deal have been worked out in Minneapolis.
"I think it's fortunate that they got trained in across the river, had an opportunity to work out the bugs," she said. "I'm really convinced that our concerns about meter hogging, or clustering are overblown because the business and the users of the services share our interest in keeping cars moving. That's when they make money."
The council approved the 18-month contract 4 to 2.
According to a report released yesterday, Car2Go is growing. Membership in Minneapolis increased from around 6,000 in March to more than 8,224 in late May. The car sharing service launched in Minneapolis last September.
"Our operations with Car2Go have gone pretty smoothly this year," said Jon Wertjes, director of traffic and parking services. "I think they came into a new market and I think they just had some in dealing with winter. But they seemed to do well with that and it looks like their growth is occurring in their business model."
Car2Go's Josh Johnson says the company is ready to roll out their fleet in St. Paul.
"We actually have the cars sitting a warehouse about five minutes outside of downtown," he said. Johnson expects the St. Paul program to start soon after July 1.