Vancouver is 'car-sharing capital of North America,' report says

A new report from Vancity found that Vancouver is home to around 3,000 vehicles in car-sharing networks, and fleets also continue to grow in the suburbs.

City home to around 3,000 vehicles in sharing networks, more than any other on continent

Car2Go is one of the four car share companies in Vancouver and surrounding cities. (David Horemans/CBC)

Bike lanes aren't the only things growing on Vancouver's streets.

According to Vancity, Vancouver is the "car-sharing capital of North America," with more vehicles per capita than any other city on the continent.

Vancity says that could be contributing to a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.

"Indications are that car-sharing provides environmental benefits, but we need more research to determine the extent," Anthonia Ogundele, Vancity's manager of environmental sustainability, said in a statement.

"In the meantime, as car-sharing grows in popularity, it's important for car-sharing companies to continue to look for opportunities to incorporate low-emissions vehicles into their fleets."

On Friday, Vancity published the results of a survey that asked more than 4,000 car-share subscribers in B.C. why they used the services.

Convenience and saving money were cited as the top two reasons, but wanting to help the environment was also highlighted by about 60 per cent of respondents.

A little more than 25 per cent of respondents said they were able to say goodbye to one privately owned vehicle thanks to car sharing.

BCAA's car sharing service, Evo, is a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrid cars. (Evo)

Expanding to suburbs

Vancouver is home to around 3,000 car-sharing vehicles between four companies' fleets: Car2Go, Evo, Modo and Zipcar.

That number is more than Toronto (1,650) and Montreal (2,080), and even more than U.S. cities like Seattle (1,900), Portland (1,060) and San Francisco (1,500).

The report found there are 4.22 car-share vehicles per 1,000 people in Vancouver. In some neighbourhoods, up to five per cent of all cars on the road are car-share vehicles.

The report found while Vancouver is home to most vehicles, growth has occurred in New Westminster, Burnaby and North Vancouver.

Environmental benefits

Vancity says car sharing has several environmental benefits over car ownership.

Drivers using a car-share vehicle often consolidate multiple trips into one and drive less in general.

The vehicles are more often "right sized" for the task at hand. "Think less single occupancy commuting in an SUV," the report says.

The report says one way car-share providers can improve the environmental benefits of their vehicles is by finding new ways to encourage carpooling with them.

The report also encourages cities to think about car sharing as part of their transportation ecosystem and find ways for these vehicles to link up with public transit.

Zipcar is one of four car-sharing companies operating in Metro Vancouver. (Zipcar/Facebook)

Car-sharing criticism

But the survey found not everyone is fully satisfied with car sharing.

One problem is how most cities outside of Vancouver don't have car-sharing options.

"The 'wall' at Boundary Road is annoying," one respondent said in the report.

Some found problems getting a vehicle or parking at certain times, while some users with small children said they struggle with the lack of car seats.

The report also found that some unique forces lead to more car-share use: the lack of affordable housing and even affordable parking.

It also found Vancouver to be unique as it doesn't presently have ride-hailing services like Lyft or Uber.

And while Metro Vancouver cities lead the way in number of vehicles, the report also found only 0.5 per cent of all vehicles in Vancouver, New Westminster, North Vancouver and Burnaby belong to a car-share fleet.

About the Author

Liam Britten

Digital journalist

Liam Britten is a journalist for CBC Vancouver. You can contact him at liam.britten@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter: @liam_britten.