Car2Go Launches in Brooklyn — Users Will Have to Pay at Parking Meters

Point-to-point car-share service Car2Go will launch next month across the western third of Brooklyn. One of the questions hanging over the launch was whether the company would pay the city to let its customers park for free at metered spaces. Now we have an answer: DOT will not change its parking rules to accommodate Car2Go, whose customers will have to pay to use metered spaces. In areas with a high concentration of meters, the company will secure private off-street parking for its users.

Car2Go will operate on NYC's residential streets, which offer free parking. The city hasn't made a deal with the company for metered spaces. Photo: Car2Go
Car2Go will operate on NYC’s residential streets, which offer free parking. The city hasn’t made a deal with the company for metered spaces. Photo: Car2Go

On October 25, Car2Go will launch operations with 400 vehicles across a 36-square-mile zone covering much of northwest Brooklyn, as well as areas west of Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Parkway. Customers can end their trips at any legal parking space anywhere within the zone, with a few exceptions.

Parking lanes that become moving lanes during rush hour are a no-no. On streets that are swept four days a week, customers can’t park if the sweeping is less than 12 hours away. If the street is swept twice a week, customers can leave a vehicle no more than 24 hours before sweeping.

In many of the cities where it operates, Car2Go pays a fee to local governments for access to residential permit zones. Since New York gives away most of its curbside space for free, that’s not an issue for Car2Go. It’s setting up shop without coming to an agreement with DOT.

The company also usually pays local governments to let customers use metered parking for free, either to run errands or to end their journey in a metered spot.

Offering a pass on meters negates the purpose of parking prices — to ensure turnover. If a Car2Go user closes out a trip at a meter, there’s no guarantee that another customer will hop in the vehicle a short time later.

While research shows that car-share services have reduced car ownership rates in some cities, it’s an open question if that applies in a dense, transit-rich city like New York, which already has a low car ownership rate. If most Car2Go customers already do not own cars, the service could encourage them to drive for trips they would have otherwise taken by transit or bike.

DOT is not alone in refusing to work out a deal allowing Car2Go customers to skirt parking meter rules. The company says it operates in Montreal and Toronto under a similar arrangement, and has signed up 54,000 members in both cities in two years.

Car2Go says it is working with private parking operators to purchase off-street spots for its customers “where metered parking is prevalent,” though it declined to name specific neighborhoods where it’s looking to secure off-street parking. While major commercial streets throughout the borough have parking meters, the greatest concentration of metered streets is in Downtown Brooklyn, which conveniently has a glut of off-street parking due to outdated zoning rules that have since been partially reformed.