Car-share service hoping for fewer barriers under Valérie Plante
Projet Montréal promised to ease restrictions on car-sharing companies, allow free parking downtown
The Auto-mobile car-sharing service says it's looking forward to fewer speed bumps with a new administration at Montreal city hall — and maybe even expanding its service across the island.
"There was a kind of mistrust about this concept," said Marco Viviani, vice-president of strategic development at Communauto, which runs Auto-mobile.
"Everything was complicated," Viviani said. "All of our requests had to pass through a lot of verifications, and this was a big obstacle."
Projet Montréal promised to get rid of the restrictions holding back car-sharing companies, opening up downtown Montreal to car-sharing and loosening restrictions on the use of universal parking permits.
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Right now, car-sharing vehicles are not allowed to park for free on city streets in the downtown Ville-Marie borough using the universal permits.
Only recently did the city create 55 street parking spaces downtown, but only for electric vehicles. However, most of Auto-mobile's fleet is made up of hybrid vehicles; few are fully electric.
Viviani says he's encouraged with what he's heard so far from the mayor-elect and her party.
"The cities have a crucial role in allowing a solution like car-sharing to pass from a good commercial initiative to something that has a real positive impact on the city and on the life of its inhabitants," he said.
Expand into 3 more boroughs?
Communauto's Auto-Mobile service is currently available in eight boroughs across the island.
Under the new Plante administration, Viviani says he hopes to expand the service into the Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Saint-Laurent and Ville-Marie boroughs, and maybe even increase the number of cars in its fleet.
Plante's commitment to support car-sharing also received an endorsement from Équiterre, the Montreal-based environmental advocacy group.
"One of the advantages we have with (Projet Montréal) is they understand where sustainable transportation and urban transportation needs to go," said Équiterre's Sidney Ribaux.
He says sustainable transportation includes a mix of car-sharing with cycling, walking and public transit. He agrees the barriers to car-sharing have to come down.
"We need to see these services everywhere in the city, and I would argue everywhere in the metropolitan area," said Ribaux.
"People really need to be able to use these cars in a much more easier way than the geographic restrictions we have right now."