City launches new car share program with reserved parking spots

New_York_Daily_News_logo_(1).png By Erin Durkin

The city will reserve hundreds of parking spots in neighborhoods around New York for car sharing services, officials said Thursday.

Some 309 parking spots on curbs and in public and NYCHA parking lots will be set aside for ZipCar and Enterprise CarShare, companies where customers pay to use a car for a few hours.

Mayor de Blasio announced the two-year test program at a press conference Thursday in Morningside Heights, one of 14 neighborhoods that will have special spots.

Officials are hoping that with cars easily available, New Yorkers who own cars but don't use them very often will get rid of them.

"When you own a car in this city, you've got a whole set of challenges that come with it - obviously the cost of insurance, fuel, repairs, but particularly the challenge of parking in New York City. There are just too many cars here," de Blasio said. "We have to give people new options."

Hizzoner was blunt about the need to get cars off the road. "If we don't reduce the number of cars, we're all screwed," he said.

The 230 street spots will be reserved for car share starting June 4. Besides Morningside, they're coming to Parkchester in the Bronx, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Red Hook in Brooklyn, the eastern Rockaways, Jackson Heights and Jamaica in Queens, and East Harlem and Hamilton Heights in Manhattan.

Studies in other cities have found that for every car in a car share program, between five and 20 households get rid of a car or choose not to buy one. But in New York, more than half of households already do without cars.

If the program is a success, the city plans to expand it.

"If this works, we're going to take it citywide in a very aggressive way," de Blasio said.

There will also be 55 car share spots at 17 municipal parking lots in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

And 24 spots will be placed at NYCHA developments in the Bronx and Brooklyn, chosen because they are near limited public transportation.

The companies will each pay a $765 licensing fee for the program, but beyond that won't pay for the reserved street parking spaces. For spots in city-owned lots, they'll pay the regular fee.

Despite the low price to the companies, officials said they think they're getting a good deal - noting the parking was previously free.

"We're getting a public service and the taxpayers are paying nothing," de Blasio said. "We feel this is a fair deal to begin."

To enforce the rules, the companies will have the power to tow cars that park in their spots and move them elsewhere in the neighborhood, similar to the current model for movie shoots. The spots will also be exempt from alternate side parking rules, but the companies will be responsible for keeping them clean.

Rates for cars range from around $8 to $18 an hour, in addition to an annual fee. Both companies will offer modest discounts for NYCHA residents, and ZipCar gives a discount to people who have the IDNYC card.

The program drew gripes from drivers who said setting aside spots for car share would make it even harder for other motorists to find a place to park.

"Public streets should be for public parking and appropriating scarce on-street parking spots to private commercial ventures raises fairness questions," said the American Automobile Association's New York legislative committee chairman John Corlett.

"New Yorkers know all too well that parking is a challenging and expensive proposition and whether City residents will receive fair value for this appropriation of public spaces remains to be seen."

Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) said he's also received complaints, but thinks critics are missing the point, since the program will encourage people to get rid of cars.

"People are lamenting the loss of parking," he said. "Actually the opposite of that is true...That opens up parking for everybody else."

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