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Car Sharing

SFMTA Plans Major Expansion of On-Street Car-Share Parking Spaces

Curbside parking spaces reserved for car-share vehicles could become much more widespread in San Francisco under a proposed expansion of the Municipal Transportation Agency's on-street car-share pilot program early next year.

Last August, the SFMTA implemented 12 on-street pilot spaces with the non-profit organization City CarShare. Now the agency is planning an expansion of more than 100 spaces, which may include multiple private car-share companies, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin recently told a Board of Supervisors committee.

The SFMTA estimates that every car-sharing vehicle replaces up to 15 privately-owned cars. During the first pilot, residents in some neighborhoods opposed converting street parking to car-sharing spots, since they saw it as a reduction in available car parking. Reiskin said the agency plans to use data to make the case for converting future spots and win over skeptics.

"Flipping the understanding of -- it's not just taking a parking space away, but it's potentially freeing up parking because people aren't going to need to have their cars in that area -- that's where we need to go," said Reiskin.

The SFMTA has learned a few lessons from the first pilot, said Reiskin, including the need to provide better signage and enforcement to prevent drivers from parking private vehicles in the spaces, a problem most prevalent in busy commercial districts.

SFMTA planners also aim to increase awareness and visibility of the service to "seed demand" in neighborhoods which, according to City CarShare, currently have very little car-share demand. Under the first pilot, the SFMTA added a car-share spot in the Bayview neighborhood after D10 Supervisor Malia Cohen complained that shared cars were too few and far between in the southeastern part of the city. While the spot didn't necessarily see high usage, Reiskin said, a wider distribution of spots in the area could drive a "critical mass" of car-share use.

Cohen, who called a hearing on car-sharing at the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee, said the lack of demand for car-share in her district could be attributed to a lack of outreach by the SFMTA and car-share companies to non-English-speaking, lower-income residents.

"In many of our outlying neighborhoods, that of which I represent, we haven't seen the same level of success," said Cohen. "I believe there's significant room for us to work more collaboratively with departments and car-sharing companies to expand the overall access." Reiskin and representatives from City CarShare said they would make efforts to expand outreach in the area under the new pilot.

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