Will ride-share be gone for good as Car2Go rolls out of Calgary?

Pictured is a Car2Go car in Calgary on Friday, September 27, 2019. Car2Go’s operation in Calgary will end on October 31. Azin Ghaffari / Postmedia Calgary

Seven years after launching in Calgary, the city’s only car-share company will be driving the last of its fleet out of town Thursday.

But as Car2Go leaves Calgary’s market, at least one other car-share company is looking to quickly take its place.

The 25-year-old company Communauto Inc. has been expanding its car-share business in Canada with vehicles in every major Canadian city except Calgary and Winnipeg. They’ve been eyeing up an expansion to Calgary for a while now after acquiring Pogo Ride Share in Edmonton, with plans to roll in by 2021 or 2022. However, the open market is enticing them to move in faster.

“We will be meeting with the city in a couple weeks to see if the conditions that we suggest are fulfilled and see if we can to bring our car-share service to Calgary,” said Marco Viviani, Communauto’s spokesperson.

Viviani is optimistic the two parties can come to an agreement because of their experience across the country. With a different operating model than Car2Go, he is confident their model would prove successful, as it is in Edmonton.

With Car2Go announcing their intention to leave Calgary on Sept. 27, Coun. Evan Woolley was concerned for frequent users who depend on car-sharing. Woolley said there are “serious conversations” with a number of businesses ready to fill the empty market — though he wouldn’t disclose which companies.

“While it’s unfortunate that the winter is going to be upon us without car-share, in the spring we will have some entrants into the market,” said Woolley.

Since launching in Calgary in 2012, the Car2Go community has over 134,000 members — a number lower than Vancouver’s 192,000 but higher than Seattle’s 127,000 and New York’s 122,000.

Other car-share companies are looking at Calgary as a possible place to set up shop as Car2Go leaves. Azin Ghaffari / Postmedia Calgary

Even though 2018 was a successful year, Car2Go is ceasing operations in Calgary, Austin, Chicago, Denver and Portland by the end of 2019.

Tiffany Young, spokesperson for Car2Go, said city policies, the ongoing economic recession and increasingly competitive market are the primary reasons for dipping out.

“Were there to be a day in which we felt conditions were better suited for free-floating car-share in Calgary, [Car2Go] would certainly consider the possibility of resuming service there,” Young said in a statement.

City official Eric MacNaughton said the city did what they could to keep Car2Go by lowering parking permit prices by 25 per cent in 2015 and adjusting other policies to compete with best practices elsewhere.

“We dropped permit costs from $600 per vehicle per year to $450 a year,” said MacNaughton. “It’s not the cheapest, some cities do offer a lower amount like Vancouver, but cities like Seattle, Montreal and Toronto do ask for a lot more than $450. I would say we are middle of the road.”

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“It’s a broader business decision and we’re disappointed to see them go. We are having some conversations with other car-share companies so we’re trying to understand what would fit in the Calgary market,” said McNaughton.

One of Car2Go’s competitors will also be out of commission this winter after the City of Calgary announced Tuesday that shared electric scooters would be going into hibernation effective Nov. 1 until the ice and snow melts in the spring.

Removal of some Car2Go infrastructure, including 118 signs, will start around the city, but MacNaughton said the company is always welcome to return.

With files from Meghan Potkins and Alanna Smith

sbabych@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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