With the opening of the Evergreen Line just months away, car sharing outfits that provide members access to a network of vehicles for a fee are eyeing the Tri-Cities as a place to lay some rubber.
Modo, a Metro Vancouver car sharing co-operative, is expected to add four more vehicles to seven already located in Coquitlam and Port Moody. And Zipcar, a U.S.-based company, is planning on entering the local market and was scheduled to announce its expansion plans at a press conference in Coquitlam tomorrow (Wednesday).
The idea that people have less need for cars when they have access to rapid transit is behind the explosion of car-sharing around the world, Selena McLachlan, marketing director for Modo, told The Tri-City News.
"There needs to be a recipe for success for people to give up their cars or their second cars, and that has to be access to alternative transportation, and that tends to be rapid transit," said McLachlan, who said Modo welcomes the competition from Zipcar coming to the region.
Modo first launched in Coquitlam in 2013, when Evergreen Line construction made it necessary to relocate a vehicle from the Lougheed SkyTrain Station in Burnaby. In the years since, cars were added in Port Moody and membership has grown to more than 700 people, including a number of Port Coquitlam residents, although there is no car yet in that city.
People who sign up typically pay a membership fee and an hourly rate to get access to a variety of vehicles, and McLachlan said they are usually motivated when they find they can commute to work by transit. Often the decision to "shed" a car comes when people realize they can save money and reduce their impact on the environment.
"It's for anybody that's interested in reducing their costs without compromising the convenience of having access to a car," McLachlan said.
In fact, every two-way car share, where people have to return the vehicle to its primary location, removes nine to 13 cars from the road, according to McLachlan, and while Zipcar hasn't yet revealed how many cars it plans to introduce in Coquitlam, McLachlan said any addition to the car sharing network is good for the region.
"The benefits are that it raises the profile of car sharing for all the operators and it gives residents more choice and more ammunition and more justification to get rid of your cars."
Parking spots are typically paid for by the car-sharing organization and McLachlan said Modo is currently looking for four spots, two each in Port Moody and Coquitlam near Evergreen Line stations.
Meanwhile, Zipcar has a spot at the corner of Pacific Street and Glen Drive in Coquitlam Town Centre.
How quickly car sharing will take off in the Tri-Cities is uncertain but Coquitlam's Strategic Transportation Plan aims to have the share of non-private car trips increased to 30% by 2031.