Car-Sharing Service Gets Green Light to Expand in St. Paul

Updated: 06/18/2014 10:46 PM
Created: 06/18/2014 9:10 PM
By: Beth McDonough

A car-sharing service is expanding to St. Paul. 

Until now, folks could pick up and drop off their Car2go only in Minneapolis. Soon you'll have the option of driving across the river too. The St. Paul City Council gave the green light to Car2go Wednesday, but only after serious debate.

"I want to see them in my neighborhood," said Theresa Cain.  She needs a car every now and then, not all the time. She often uses public transit to get around.  A car, for an hour or two, would come in handy. 

Cain needs a ride home from City Hall.  She can't wait to sign up for what she sees parked over her shoulder at the curb, "I'm looking at it right there and wish I could get in that right now and go."

Starting next month, she can.  Anyone who wants to rent a Car2go by the hour or day can in St. Paul.

City council members agreed to the pilot program, test out the car sharing program for 18 months.  The decision didn't come quickly or easily. Concerns were raised about parking problems and potential of lost revenue.

"It really bothers me using the public right of way for private business," said to Dan Bostrom, Ward 6.  However Amy Brendmoen of Ward 4 says, "I'm really convinced our concerns about meter hogging or clustering are a little overblown."

Car2go would pay the city $975 per vehicle a year, and park 185 vehicles anywhere within the city. The number of cars could go up to 285 within a year. Users pay a one-time fee of $35 bucks, plus 46-cents per minute while driving.

You can use a computer or app on a cellphone and track down the closest smart car. You swipe a special access card, punch in a code and then start the car with a key stored inside. 

The goal is to get people where they need to go in a public car, perhaps reducing the number of private ones on the road.

There is no city funding coming from St. Paul.  In fact, revenue from Car2go goes into city funds to pay for pothole patching and road overlays.

Two other car sharing services operate in the Twin Cities: Zip Car and Hour Car.

Zip Car is celebrating its one year anniversary. Hour Car, which already operates in St. Paul and Minneapolis, is adding more vehicles in Northeast Minneapolis.


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