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Car2go’s firestorm over shrunken service area reawakens concerns about bikeshare coverage

Posted by on July 31st, 2015 at 11:57 am

car2go home area

Car2go’s new service area.
(Image: car2go)

Soon after introducing bike racks to half its fleet, the floating-fleet car-sharing service car2go has made a much less popular change: it’s slicing its Portland service area by about a third.

The company said that areas east of 60th Avenue and northwest of Portsmouth, including Montavilla, Cully, Lents and St. Johns, had accounted for only 8 percent of trips and that 90 percent of car2go users surveyed said they were unsatisfied with vehicle availability. The company says that eliminating the least-used parts of the service area will lead to more car density in the remaining areas.

But that didn’t prevent digital howls Friday from disappointed users of the service — some of whom compared the problem to the one that’ll be faced by any future bikesharing system in Portland, too.

A handful of people defended the decision, or at least argued that the public couldn’t control it:

But the bikeshare analogy is also a sign of conflicts to come:

Advertise with BikePortland.
car2go-Portland-HAO-Percentage-of-Rentals-Map-For-Member-E-mail-Communication-Only

Car2go created this graphic to explain their argument for shrinking their service area.

It’s worth noting that the car2go area has changed many times since the service’s 2012 launch. When it began, its north boundary was Killingsworth Street and its east boundary was 82nd Avenue, so much of North, Northeast and East Portland were excluded from the start. But the ongoing expansion of car2go’s service area had instilled confidence in many Portlanders that the service’s boundaries were getting larger, not smaller — an evolution that maybe seemed to make up for the fact that its prices had risen from 35 to 41 cents per minute.

The change comes two months after the service began adding a flat $1 fee on every trip, significantly driving up the cost of short trips but lowering the service’s insurance deductible, and a few weeks after it ended its service in Eugene.

Last December, we reported that Portland was the car2go capital of North America when it came to vehicles per square mile. Car2go didn’t respond to a question on Twitter about the size of its Portland fleet going forward.

It’s not clear how the arrival of ridesourcing services Uber and Lyft in Portland this summer has or will affect demand for car2go. Like car2go, Uber has said it is likely to add bike racks to many of its vehicles in an effort to facilitate multimodal trips.

As the City of Portland keeps trying to move toward the launch of a privately operated public bikeshare system — and as the startup Spinlister prepares to launch the country’s first fully private bike-sharing system in Portland — the talk about how much control the public can expect or demand over its shared transportation services is only going to continue.

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103 Comments
  • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    It is expensive to run buses up to Portland Heights where few people bother to ride them. I suspect it is similar for Car2Go in areas of lower usage. All these systems cost money (public in the case of Trimet, private* in the case of Car2Go). And, yeah, bikeshare would be subject to I think some of the same constraints.
    There’s a sense that we are entitled to services like these (bus, car2go, bikeshare, etc). But I think that also necessitates a conversation about what we’re trying to accomplish and how to browbeat a private company into doing public things. As far as I know Car2Go is not a public utility where at least in principle the public has some sway over this sort of thing.

    *But I’d like to know more about the tweets suggesting “these systems are under public purview. If they exacerbate inequality, then no deal.”

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    • Scott H July 31, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      I’d wager the ‘public purview’ claim is referring to the agreement that car2go has with the city surrounding parking costs. And those parking costs don’t seem to apply in the areas that car2go is cutting service. Perhaps the city didn’t work anything into that agreement that requires car2go to maintain coverage in certain areas.

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    • Brian Davis July 31, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      With the public purview bit, several of us were ruminating out load about what regulatory authority the City might have over car2go based on the parking agreement or other mechanisms. The car2go fleet is a private asset, but certainly the City has some levers to pull here. Should we continue to offer below-market parking pricing for a company whose service is not in line with our equity goals? Certainly by cutting out 30% of the service area, more cars2go will be parked in metered and zoned spaces, further taxing those crowded areas, so what recourse does the City have considering this?

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      • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 12:55 pm

        Good point, and thanks for explaining that part I didn’t know.

        However I think these issues will continue to dog us: no public or public/private or even private (for rent) option is going to come close to the rate of return I get on my bike. That increment could translate into a subsidy, or perhaps a bargaining chip related to the threat of withdrawing a subsidy, but the underlying economics are not I don’t think so easily dismissed.
        Capitalism is about making money. Bikes are about how to get where you need to go for, basically, free. As soon as we insert clever things like Car2Go we’ve tacitly acquiesced to a set of requirements and priorities that take us, inevitably and persistently away from equity and free, and autonomous.

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  • Scott H July 31, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Meh, personal feelings aside, it’s hard to really blame them for removing an area that consumes 30% of their coverage and only accounts for 8% of trips. That’s pretty sound business logic, and car2go is a business.

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    • Dan M. August 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      I cancelled Car2Go because I lived in Montavilla and the cars would never get a signal so you could neither begin nor end your rental. And their customer service was the worst. And their service was the worst. And their cars were the worst. Car2Go is garbage and will die on account of their terrible product, not because car-sharing is a bad idea.

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  • Todd Hudson July 31, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I’m starting to think that Car2Go isn’t as a profitable business model that we assumed.

    It’s a total bummer that after August, I’ll be unable to use them to get home 🙁

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    • Lance P. August 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      When biking back from camping early sunday morning, I saw a line of car2go vehicles lining the 205 bike path. That also happened to be the border. My guess is that people were often, similar to you, taking them home. The problem is that they then have needed to have someone take a truck out there to bring them back in. better transit seems to be the really need out in outer SE

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  • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Bikes, man!

    They’re cheap, autonomous, ubiquitously available, pretty much indestructible + you don’t need to lobby anyone to spend any money for you to use it. Just hop on (with your U-lock) and ride wherever you need to go, almost like feet, but even better.

    C.f. Ivan Illich.

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    • Chris I July 31, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Just don’t park overnight in certain parts of the city, or try to take it on transit during rush hour.

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      • Spiffy July 31, 2015 at 2:40 pm

        or try to ride in the street in a business district without being threatened with death…

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    • Mindful Cyclist July 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      What if I am stuck with my bike because of a mechanical issue and want to get it home after bus service has ended?

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      • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm

        I don’t know. Walk home, lock it up and hitch a ride? I suspect you folks who have phones in your pockets have many more options than I’d think of.

        I love buses, think they’re great, and appreciate the service, but I also can’t justify service expansion or maintenance in areas where no one or almost no one takes the bus.

        I take the Trimet #96 to Wilsonville from downtown fairly often. Few people take it outside of rush hour, and it doesn’t actually run all that much outside of the peak periods. But it provides a very much appreciated service for me. I have not had much success persuading any of my acquaintances to take it. And for all I know Trimet may cut the number of runs this line makes at some point. I’d lament this, but I would also understand why they did it and probably wouldn’t feel entitled to complain knowing what I know about ridership on that line and the economics of running mostly empty buses.

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        • lop July 31, 2015 at 8:59 pm

          Until trimet publishes data they have on ridership per run, per stop, and the financial performance of each line you should absolutely be upset if they cut service. They want to avoid the public debate and decide by themselves which trips are worth subsidizing to what extent. Maybe your bus isn’t financially productive. But is it really the worst run there is? Or are other parts of the city getting a subsidy of twenty dollars per trip while your line gets cut because it needs a subsidy of ten?

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          • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 10:06 pm

            A few years ago Michael put together an amazing infographic on the costs of public transport sliced dozens of different ways. I defer to those who know this subject better than I.

            I’m all for transparency, but I think it is important also to temper our outrage when it comes to low-performing lines or areas of demand so low that it is difficult or impossible to justify without a public conversation about cross subsidies.

            And don’t get me wrong; I am not shy about picking fights with bus companies. I have been at war with Yamhill County Transit for several years over unreasonable statements about service levels, hand waving about scheduling constraints, and more.

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          • tridork August 3, 2015 at 10:27 am

            submit a FOIA request

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      • WAR July 31, 2015 at 1:27 pm

        More than likely your phone will be out of batteries and you will be unable to utilize the car to go service. But you can always hail a cab if you plan and cary cash. Credit cards are a form of payment they accept as well.

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        • davemess July 31, 2015 at 2:51 pm

          Can’t hail a cab in Portland……

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        • Mindful Cyclist July 31, 2015 at 3:49 pm

          You don’t need your cell phone unless you are going to look for one. Sure it helps, but if you see one available, I don’t need my phone.

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        • gutterbunnybikes July 31, 2015 at 5:47 pm

          You forgot that Bigfoot stole your bike key and the aliens probes made it difficult to walk.

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    • Adam H. July 31, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      you don’t need to lobby anyone to spend any money for you to use it

      I call BS. Sure, you can ride your bike anywhere, but without adequate infrastructure, most people won’t want to risk their lives riding on roads that were built to move cars as fast as possible to the detriment of everyone else. Getting this infrastructure built requires lobbying.

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      • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        That is the party line, and I have been known to sing it too at times. But I also appreciate that we can look at this another way. many of us started biking before there was any (bike) infrastructure, or even without any guidance from our elders. It can be done. That’s all I want to not let us forget. I like more infrastructure as much as the next person, but it is *not required* for us to get where we need to go on a bike.

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        • Adam H. July 31, 2015 at 1:42 pm

          True.

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        • Tom Hardy August 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm

          I’m with you 9watts. I am starting to think much of the carnage now from motorized vehicles is because the drivers are now more aware of the moving targets. Their phones are merely a distraction they are using to explain why they are targeting cyclists now.

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      • Eric Leifsdad July 31, 2015 at 8:33 pm

        Note: “need” vs “want”, which is somewhat like risk vs perception of risk. You can ride your bike (naked, even) anywhere in Oregon — nearly everywhere a pedestrian or vehicle is allowed (exceptions include downtown sidewalks, platinum mountain bike trails, and metro interstates.) I’m not saying infrastructure wouldn’t be great and helpful and encouraging, but I think 9watts is trying to say that bikes are a nearly free way to be very mobile, even if a bit vulnerable right now. With gasoline at $16/gal and diverters everywhere, the “need” to drive would be greatly minimized.

        While I don’t really want to drive for a 2 mile trip, I often choose to drive rather than take my kids along on some of our uphill-no-bike-lane-or-shoulder-around-a-curve routes or alongside speeding traffic on Barbur. Given that I’m actively trying to reduce my car use for short trips (2-7 miles, depending on how much family is riding along) and gas is not $16, there’s not much to help most people toward these choices except exceptional, gleaming golden infrastructure. But, I think we need to be well on the way to $16/gal gas before we can build it, because laziness is still a favorite pastime.

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        • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 10:09 pm

          Beautifully said, Eric.

          But this:
          “But, I think we need to be well on the way to $16/gal gas before we can build it, because laziness is still a favorite pastime.”
          I’d suggest we are well on our way to $16/gal gas. Any further along and it will be too late to do anything since infrastructure *is* oil – mostly.
          Paint, asphalt, concrete, not to mention the fleet to deliver and install and maintain it all = fossil fuels.

          Have you checked the asphalt index lately?

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          • lop July 31, 2015 at 11:02 pm

            Is there political support to make gas cost $16/gallon? If not, you’re asking for crude prices or $400 or so to force it. Get rid of the strategic petroleum reserve and government price controls and that’s possible in a short term supply disruption, but it isn’t sustainable without huge tax hikes. There’s enough oil that can be pumped for $100/barrel to meet demand at that price for decades. Synthetic fuels and electric vehicles would cost less than $16 gas too.

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            • Eric Leifsdad August 1, 2015 at 8:54 am

              If you sum all of the externalities, you’ll find that it already costs $16/gal. Half is being left as unpaid debt for our children and the rest is coming out of taxes via roads, subsidies, military, etc. Granted, petroleum isn’t the only way to power cars, but let’s see what happens when the people burning gasoline have to pay for it up front. There isn’t enough lithium to replace all of these engines with batteries, or whatever other hope for a “clean energy future” while everyone hauls a living room around wherever they go. Until this becomes obvious enough to pass at least a carbon tax, we’re waiting for the market to solve the problem without any financial incentive (I.e. trying to start an engine with no fuel.)

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              • lop August 1, 2015 at 3:45 pm

                As I said, unless there is political support for $16 gas it’s not going to happen.

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              • 9watts August 2, 2015 at 9:18 am

                “unless there is political support for $16 gas it’s not going to happen.”

                lop,

                let me get this straight. You really think that, going forward, the price of gas will be something the US public determines? It is true that for much of the twentieth century we in the US have thrown our weight around on the world stage a lot, in large part so that we could continue to have access to cheap resources including oil. We got used to calling the shots, getting our way. But I’d venture that in the 21st Century this is mostly over. Access to cheap oil, going forward, is not going to be subject to our whims or preferences. Nothing we will do will make a whit of difference to the price of oil we’ll get to pay. Fracking’s the last gasp, and the fracking peak is predicted by some to be in 2016.

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              • lop August 2, 2015 at 8:19 pm

                “You really think that, going forward, the price of gas will be something the US public determines?”

                To a point. The end of cheap oil will mean without direct subsidies (as opposed to unpriced externalities) gas can’t dip below $4. But EIA high oil price scenarios doesn’t show the price rising enough to get you $16 gas. So without significantly less oil production than expected (decades long war in SA or elsewhere in the region disrupting production?) or significantly faster economic growth in non OECD countries than fast growth scenarios project it seems unlikely that the US will see $16 gas without significant tax hikes. You can say that it’s just pricing externalities or give it whatever spin you want. But it boils down to needing public support for high gas prices.

                And since this thread started about driving generally, not fossil fuel burning specifically, even if oil prices did stabilize at $400 or whatever is needed to get gas to $16 a gallon without tax hikes do you really think there wouldn’t be a surge in investment in algae farms or some other sort of bio-synthetic oil? The navy has run tests on synthetic fuel that work as a drop in replacement for diesel and jet fuel in their fleet. It’s technically feasible to create synthetic fuels that won’t require the infrastructure investment than ethanol would, it’s just more expensive than oil today. I don’t think it would be more expensive than $16 gas. Electric cars could replace most gas based cars if gas was $16 too. There is plenty of potential for non lithium based batteries.

                Plenty of wells are being prepared for production but capped before pumping today, and plenty of oil produced today is being dumped into new built salt caverns because a supply glut has dropped prices by ~40% or so, there is definitely a production decline coming but it will pick up again once oil prices get back to $80-100.

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              • Mike August 3, 2015 at 11:29 am

                There is still so much crude left in the world. We will not see $16/gal retail prices anytime soon. Maybe 50 years from now, but by then the “Big One” will have wiped out the PNW and we will all be riding bikes and picnicking on our new bike boulevards that are made from something completely sustainable, low maintenance, durable, cheap and good for the planet.

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              • 9watts August 3, 2015 at 10:23 pm

                “There is still so much crude left in the world.”

                Yes, lots. But almost no cheap stuff.
                Big difference.

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              • Mike August 4, 2015 at 8:07 am

                I guess that depends on your definition of cheap. There are plenty of wells that are ready to produce, but are currently moth-balled pending the return of $70 barrels. The infrastructure is there, all they need to do is start the derrick, so there is not really any cost there.
                Iran is sitting on a huge reserve of oil and the US is about to start getting some of that, Mexico just went public with their resources. Gas is going to remain cheap for a while longer. Sorry.
                As an investor in big oil, I would prefer that the price gets driven up. Maximizes my return and gets people to drive less. Of course that my be my “love affair with income inequality”.

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              • 9watts August 5, 2015 at 9:18 am

                “There are plenty of wells that are ready to produce, but are currently moth-balled pending the return of $70 barrels. The infrastructure is there, all they need to do is start the derrick, so there is not really any cost there.”

                We no longer live in a world where oil price was so simple. Here’s a bit from John Michael Greer:

                In an age of increasing capital expenditure on new oil fields, due to declining Energy Return On Investment (EROI), oil needs to be sufficiently expensive for oil supply to keep up with demand. But when oil is too expensive, economies that rely on cheap energy inputs cannot function and demand dries up, reducing the price of oil. Some analysts argue that there is a ‘narrow ledge’ (Nelder and Macdonald, 2011) where the price of oil is high enough to procure the necessary investments and production but not so high as to inhibit so-called ‘healthy growth’ of the economy. That may have been the case in recent history, but my suspicion is that this ‘narrow ledge’ has itself now crumbled away. There is no longer an ‘optimal price’ that falls within such a ledge. Oil is now either too cheap to procure ongoing investments and production or too expensive for oil-dependent economies to function well (perhaps even both too cheap to meet demand and too expensive for growth). When these issues are placed in the context of climate change and the need to transition beyond fossil fuels, it becomes clear that there is no such thing as cheap oil.

                http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-03-05/the-paradox-of-oil-the-cheaper-it-is-the-more-it-costs

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      • Mixtieme August 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm

        Always felt this was a chicken or the egg argument. I wanna ride my bike but it’s so dangerous so I’ll drive at dangerous speeds instead. Not to mention that the only folks who ‘neeeed’ to drive are delivery drivers (b-line is certianly showing how big the ‘need’ is), everyone else can absolutely get by without a car they’d just have to think a little more about their choices (or why they feel they lack choices) and schedule a bit better.

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  • Adam H. July 31, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    This is why we need better public transport (bike share included) instead of relying on a private corporation that’s only concern is maximizing profits.

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    • WAR July 31, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      That’s right! We should Subaru-ize and install bike racks.

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    • lop July 31, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Will the people in east portland be paying higher taxes to cover the greater expense of providing public transportation services to them? Or is this just a backhand way of getting the denser parts of the city to subsidize the more suburban areas? Because you can do that with private corporations too. Offer a franchise contract to any car share or bike share service and tell them they can charge a flat rate of $$$ for usage anywhere, but they must offer service everywhere. Treat it like a utility. Or was the point to avoid the debate?

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      • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 10:12 pm

        Nice suggestion. But I’ll ask again, should we – in 2015 – be in the business of instantiating, fine-tuning, overseeing car-based public infrastructure? We could be doing a lot of other things with our money, and on a resiliency scale I can think of several other options that would rank higher than this particular one.

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    • middle of the road guy August 3, 2015 at 10:19 am

      There is maximizing profits and there is reducing losses. Sounds like these service areas were not generating revenue.

      And let me ask you this – if someone offered you a raise, would you take it?

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  • davemess July 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Sorry maccoinnich, but most of East Moreland still has access to this new service area.
    This isn’t just about wealth. It’s about wealth/density. It makes sense that the West Hills doesn’t get it because they have lower density. But there are a lot of pretty dense neighborhoods in Portland who are now on the outside looking in in this case.

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    • maccoinnich July 31, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Have a look at this map of population density by census tract – http://projects.oregonlive.com/maps/density-tract/. It’s not a perfect match, but generally the areas car2go is pulling out of have much lower population density than the areas they’re going to concentrate on. For instance census tract 13.01 in Buckman has 4.75 people per 10,000 sq ft. Census tract 16.02 in Montavilla has 2.44 people per 10,000 sq ft. At the extreme end the population density in parts of downtown is 5x that of the neighborhoods on Mt Tabor.

      Granted, there are somewhat denser neighborhoods in East Portland that have never been served by car2go. Census tract 90 in Powellhurst Gilbert has 3.19 people per 10,000 sq ft, but that area comes with its own issues. The lack of a connected street grid means a car could be one block away, but as much as a 10-15 minute walk away.

      Bike share will face the same challenges. There are large parts of the city that will never work for either service, regardless of the demographics. That includes both the West Hills and East Portland, for somewhat similar reasons.

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      • davemess July 31, 2015 at 2:18 pm

        Looking at that map, it looks like a lot of the areas they’re staying in (mainly in NE and N Portland) have the same or less density (2-4/10,000ft) as the areas they’re pulling out of in outer SE and NE.

        Mt. Tabor is pretty skewed on Density because there is a park that takes up almost a 3rd of the area.

        So again this comes back to an equity issue. As you need to have more money to live in these closer in neighborhoods.
        Yet then some people in the close in neighborhoods get up in arms about people who are forced to live in outer areas of the city and then need to get into downtown (see recent complaints on here about Powell being too fast, etc.). Yet these people’s options are to own and drive a car, sit on a bus for often 3-4 times as long as a car ride, or maybe ride a bike that also could take 3-4 times as long.

        I’m just saying that people who are ardently trying to promote lower car lifestyles should be very upset by this decision, as it is another barrier to people trying to live lower car lifestyles in these outer neighborhoods.

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        • maccoinnich July 31, 2015 at 5:25 pm

          I wish car2go served all of not just Portland, but the Portland metro area. As someone who doesn’t own a car, it’s invaluable for many situations where cycling / transit would take too long, wouldn’t be possible or would just be too unpleasant (February, I’m looking at you).

          That said, I recognize that there are realities to providing a service like car2go. As a private company, they have to operate where they can make a profit, and that means places with the density and land use patterns to support the service. The City could subsidize the service so that it operated city-wide, but I don’t see that being a vote winner.

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  • Eric Leifsdad July 31, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Maybe they could cover more of the west side if they required you to leave the car at or below the elevation where you found it (or if they charged by the vertical foot / ride downhill for free?) I’ve seen one/day accumulation of up to 4 of them at the top of (200ft up) Corbett near La View. Does this happen on Mount Tabor? (20 skateboard runs later…)

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  • WAR July 31, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    That’s what happens when a company controls your car availability. Guess what? My car is still where I left it this morning when I rode my bike to work. #donttrustthecloud

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  • WAR July 31, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    $15 for a car-to-go to get to downtown? And you have to walk blocks to get to the vehicle? I’ll take a cab for the same price.

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    • Spiffy July 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      I guess I should try Uber… last time I took a a cab it was twice the cost of car2go…

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    • Bjorn August 2, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Where are you picking up the car2go at??? I have never had a trip that cost more than 10 dollars, and there is no extra charge if you have a passenger with you. Using the online estimation tools it appears uber would be 2-3 times as much as a car2go for trips I normally take.

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  • Bjorn July 31, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Carsharing, like bikesharing should be treated as a utility and required to serve the entire city. If we allow a company to come in and only serve the most profitable portion of the city it makes it that much harder for a competitor to come in and serve the entire city.

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    • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      “Carsharing, like bikesharing should be treated as a utility and required to serve the entire city.”

      O.K. I’ll bite. Why?
      We already have Trimet buses and Streetcar and MAX and Dial-a-Ride and…. do we really need more and more and more of these overlapping, if slightly different modal options publicly provided?

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      • Psyfalcon July 31, 2015 at 3:35 pm

        Given the number of people claiming they need a car, apparently.

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        • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 10:14 pm

          Why take that as given?
          People claim they need sex and food and entertainment too. Are we going to get into those other businesses as well?

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        • Mike August 3, 2015 at 11:45 am

          Claiming they need a car, but obviously there is not enough business there for C2G to remain. Or is it that C2G is doing this to be vindictive? They are actually making a ton of money, but they are pulling out just because they love inequality or some other BS?

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  • RH July 31, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Private business….they can do whatever they want. In the business world you have to adapt or die. Trimet has know to cut service/hours to save money too.

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    • Bjorn July 31, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      trimet has cut hours and they have cut service, but they have never decided to stop running buses east of 62nd.

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      • RH July 31, 2015 at 2:32 pm

        I’ve known trimet to cut routes and days of service for unprofitable routes. I know ‘equity’ is the word of the year, but there comes a point where it becomes unrealistic. Car2go isn’t the only option to get around. There is biking, walking, taxi, public transit, uber, lyft, car pool, etc…

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        • Bjorn July 31, 2015 at 2:37 pm

          Yeah but by allowing car2go to serve only the most profitable part of the city you box out a competitor who would like to serve the whole city. The same problem is going to happen if google fiber actually comes to portland. They will wire up the most profitable parts of town and the rest of the city will never get fast internet because no competitor will be able to make a go of it only serving the less profitable parts of town. That is why portland shouldn’t have said ok to google getting to pick and choose which neighborhoods to connect, and why car2go as well as cab services and uber and lyft and everyone else should be required to serve the whole city.

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          • RH July 31, 2015 at 2:50 pm

            We’ll if Google fiber doesn’t cover your area, Century Link and Comcast already offer 1 GB service in Porltand…even 2GB service….other options exist. UPS and FedEx started small before their profits allowed them to expand to other areas of the globe.

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        • davemess July 31, 2015 at 2:55 pm

          “There is biking, walking, taxi, public transit, uber, lyft, car pool, etc…”

          These options become less and less realistic (or timely or affordable) for people the further out of the central city you get.

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          • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 4:31 pm

            And as you get further out, at some point we’d agree that they live in the country, where no one in their right mind would dream of expecting or demanding this many overlapping public transport options.

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            • davemess August 2, 2015 at 8:12 am

              Se we’re saying SE 72nd is “in the country” now? We’re talking about a substantial portion of the Population of our city. This isn’t a situation of people in Estacada demanding 5 minute bus service.

              Again this a major issue of this city essentially forcing a large percentage of its population to live further out due to high housing prices and then some folks turning around and trying to punish them for driving when they have limited options further out. Can you at least agree that many people simply can’t afford to live in areas of this city that make car free or even car light lifestyles doable?

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              • 9watts August 2, 2015 at 9:24 am

                I said nothing about SE 72nd. I was just pointing out that somewhere out East (or West or South) of the Burnside bridge is a line beyond which most of us might agree that providing/demanding this many overlapping (public or quasi-public) transportation options would be considered ridiculous.
                The majority of commenters here seem to have no appetite for discussing limits to growth in the Metro area, but here again we see that growth in people, in services, in coverage has costs. Costs we seem to have trouble surrounding or justifying.

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      • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        Trimet ≠ Car2Go

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  • Spiffy July 31, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    this is good and bad news… I’ve been meaning to use the service less and bike/bus more… now they no longer serve my home area… problem solved… thanks car2go!

    my co-worker just signed up with car2go this morning because he lives on 92nd near the Parkrode Transit center and there are always a lot of cars there… he came back from lunch and I showed him this article and now he’s mad he just wasted $35 for a service he won’t use much…

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    • davemess July 31, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Is the sign up $35?
      They’ve had so many free sign ups, I didn’t realize people were paying a sign up fee.

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      • Spiffy July 31, 2015 at 3:28 pm

        yeah he couldn’t find a current discount code to use so paid the full price… I think mine was $10 when I signed up…

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        • davemess July 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm

          I guess I feel better that mine was free at least.

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          • Bjorn August 1, 2015 at 10:38 am

            I was told that if you email them they will refund the signup fee.

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      • Mindful Cyclist July 31, 2015 at 3:50 pm

        At the start of the year, I did see some facebook ad that was waiving the sign up fee and I took advantage of that. But, normally I think it is $35.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 31, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Perhaps C2G needed to shift some cars from underperforming Portland to its expanding market of Vancouver!

    http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/1440818/car2go-expands-vancouver-fleet-to-largest-in-world/

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  • Paul July 31, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Totally sensible change. Providing quality services to segments of the population that largely don’t want to use them (yet) may be a good idea in the long term (behaviors will change eventually), but it’s a very tough sell in the short term. Without major government funding, that kind of long term investment isn’t really possible.

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    • Chris
      Chris July 31, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      This isn’t a permanent change. If new demand emerges, they can certainly re-expand the coverage area.

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      • 9watts July 31, 2015 at 10:15 pm

        “If new demand emerges”

        How would that new demand manifest itself, register with the car2go cheeses?

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  • Todd Boulanger July 31, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    It would be interesting to be able to read the operations contract between the City and C2G to see how these “issues” were managed or mitigated.

    Other than the “equity” issue there are other things making Portland into “two” worlds…much of east portland (like far north, etc.) have land uses and infrastructure that rewards (publicly subsidizes) driving and private car ownership thus depressing the demand for transit, car sharing, biking etc. Charging for on street parking (ala Shoup) would be a start or at least developing a car parking tax for free / below market parking.

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  • dirt_merchant July 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I’m sympathetic to those who are affected by this- but C2G is not a public good, its a for-profit company. It’s not meant to be a tool to negate inequalities, just as a bike lane is not meant to subjugate those who do not use them.

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    • kittens August 2, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      We can choose to impose whatever restrictions, requirements etc. we wish as a city. There is nothing inherent in private business which precludes a citizenry from determining its own fate.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly July 31, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    It’s a new business model. They’re tuning it. Profit wins. People lose.

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    • SteveG July 31, 2015 at 10:51 pm

      No profit = no company.

      The only way anyone who wants car-sharing wins is if Car2go is profitable.

      As urban population density increases, so does demand for transit and car-sharing. It’s really that simple. This is illustrated by what Car2go just announced in Vancouver, BC: they’re DOUBLING the number of Car2go cars there, from 625 to 1,250.

      Car2go Portland is doing the same basic thing, but by cutting their service area in half, thereby doubling the concentration of vehicles in the densest areas of the city.

      Demographics certainly play a major role, too. Car2go isn’t particularly cheap, and people who have less money will — all else being equal — use the service less.

      It’s basically the same reason that there are a lot fewer Starbucks coffeehouses as you travel East out of downtown: less density and less money.

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      • davemess August 2, 2015 at 8:13 am

        Less money yes, but not necessarily always less density.

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        • 9watts August 2, 2015 at 9:25 am

          capitalism, dude.

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    • middle of the road guy August 3, 2015 at 10:32 am

      are you a for profit person or do yo operate with zero dollars in the bank?

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  • daisy July 31, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Equity is important, but it’s a bit ridiculous to suggest that this map somehow lines up with rich Portland. North Portland along Lombard is not the wealthy part of town. There are plenty of poor folks who live in the blue area. Some of the schools in this blue area are majority free lunch schools (meaning most of the kids who attend those schools are from families with low income).

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  • craig harlow July 31, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    I’ve been a car2go booster since before they launched here. Today I quit. #quitcar2go

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    • Mike August 3, 2015 at 11:37 am

      It is too bad that your area is one that will be affected. It would suck to rely on them and find out that they are no longer servicing your neighborhood.

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      • Craig Harlow August 5, 2015 at 9:30 am

        My area’s not affected. I just don’t want to continue supporting yet another central-city-only amenity, and I want Car2Go to know it.

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  • Lee August 1, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Here’s an idea: CAPTURE THE FLEET!

    From now until Aug 24th when they change service area – grab a Car2Go somewhere and bring it into area that’s going to be cut. At end of your trip, make sure you or someone else picks it up in short order and takes it somewhere else – but KEEP the car inside this area.

    Let’s see how much of their fleet we can capture, and if we can account for more than 8% of their trips for a couple of weeks.

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    • Mike August 3, 2015 at 11:33 am

      That is a brilliant idea! Actually use the service and maybe they will stay. Why didn’t anyone think of that before?!

      Nah – it is so much easier to not use it and get pissed off when they decide to reallocate their fleet.

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  • Mindful Cyclist August 1, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Here is the issue I really have with it: I obviously erroneously thought that maybe car2go was a more forward thinking company. I thought it may be willing to take a little less money and make sure the cars were accessible to many neighborhoods. But, I realize now that it is not the case. They are just worried about the bottom line.

    I understand it is a private corp that can do what it wants to do and there are no requirements to serve the whole city. And, I guess some people were complaining that they could not find cars and the ones past 60th sat around too much.

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    • middle of the road guy August 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Maybe there are…but the losses in those areas are not sustainable. At some point, you can’t keep sacrificing.

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    • Mike August 3, 2015 at 11:35 am

      One might argue that they are forward thinking and that is why they are no longer throwing away money and services on an area that obviously doesn’t need them. I would say that is very forward thinking from a business standpoint.

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  • kittens August 2, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I hope this portends a full Car2Go retreat from the Rose City. They, like other vestiges of the “sharing economy” are nothing more than parasites feasting off the dead carcass of the fading love affair with sprawl and income inequality 🙂

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    • Mike August 3, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Yeah! The love affair of income equality!

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  • Eric August 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    I carry a Car2go membership card when I ride in the city as an emergency measure. I have used it once to get me out of a sticky situation in about 2 years. I don’t consider it practical transportation because it is really for one-way trips, and I like to end up back where I started (home).

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  • Eric L August 3, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    This totally makes sense. I work near the Airport and bike out there from N Portland. I see so many car2go’s parked just outside people single family homes east of the Hollywood, Cully areas more times then I can count. This is not car sharing when the car sits idle miles away from the density of people. You can’t expect car2go staff to go out and snatch cars in these areas to bring them closer to the city center. That would be inefficient and higher costs for everyone.

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  • 9watts August 4, 2015 at 10:33 am

    You want to talk about the price of gas in the US?

    “New figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) show that the US, which hosted the G20 summit in 2009, gives $700bn a year in fossil fuel subsidies, equivalent to $2,180 for every American. President Barack Obama backed the phase out but has since overseen a steep rise in federal fossil fuel subsidies.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/04/g20-countries-pay-over-1000-per-citizen-in-fossil-fuel-subsidies-say-imf

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    • lop August 4, 2015 at 11:26 am

      9watts I tried to draw a distinction between direct subsidies and unpriced externalities. Here’s the IMF study your article is referencing:

      http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2015/new070215a.htm

      If you click on country database in related links you get a breakdown.

      That $700 billion is mostly about unpriced externalities. Since you mentioned gas prices knock it down at least to $406 billion, the line item for petroleum (203 for coal, 89 for natural gas). There isn’t a breakdown of what goes into that 406, but there is a breakdown of the 699 total fossil fuel number. I’d figure almost the whole congestion charge (147) is going to motor vehicles. Same with accidents (58) and road damage (9). Foregone consumption tax revenue (45) is probably the closest to a cash subsidy. In states with a sales tax gasoline is often exempt (electricity and heating fuels too?). There is a separate gas tax instead, so in effect you’re dedicating sales tax from gas to a specific purpose. If I go to a restaurant and pay a sales tax on my meal that money isn’t dedicated to paying for something related to eating out. It goes into the general fund, or maybe some share of sales tax from all sources is dedicated to something specific, like transportation or schools. Sometimes when the sales tax does apply to gas it’s capped to only apply to the first $2 or similar, offering just a partial tax break. There are other goods that get a sales tax exemption, often clothing below some limit, some groceries. The idea is to exempt some non luxury products to reduce the impact of sales tax on the poor. The other two big ones are local air pollution (206) and global warming (220). Mostly unpriced externalities. You can call paying for them with a gas tax whatever you want, but it boils down to needing public support for higher gas prices.

      The congestion charge and accidents are mostly paid for by drivers/passengers. Some amount of the petroleum charge is going to go to heating oil. A few years ago in NYC they started to phase out the dirtiest oil furnaces. It turned out that a small share of buildings with decades old furnaces were responsible for more of certain air pollutants (total soot, PM2.5, O3, SOx etc…) than all cars and trucks combined. I don’t know what share of the petroleum charge falls on car/trucks that isn’t paid for by the users. But it looks to be in the neighborhood of 150-200. Which isn’t that much more than a dollar per gallon.

      http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=23&t=10

      Add that to the $3-5/gallon floor on gas with the end of cheap oil and you still aren’t at half of the $16/gallon being talked about above. And instead of taxing that $1-1.5 much of the air pollution subsidy will be eliminated by further cleaning up tailpipe emissions. Increasing fleet fuel efficiency will cut the GW number too.

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  • Tom Hardy August 4, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    The funds being used to pay the subsidies to the O&G industries is taken out of everyone’s income taxes. That is the $16 per gallon figure.

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    • lop August 4, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Where is the 1-2 trillion dollar annual subsidy for oil that would get the price of gas to $16/gallon?

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  • Randall S. August 5, 2015 at 8:29 am

    “It’s too bad @car2goPortland is doing this. scaling back availability and jacking up costs isn’t going to fix the biz model.”

    Yes it will. That’s literally the fundamental idea of a business: If you don’t have a profit, reduce expenses and increase revenue. How do people think businesses work?

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  • Mark Smith August 6, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Seriously, everyone owns a bike. If you don’t, there are rental places. Heck, buy a cheap one and then sell it. Portland should focus on making biking ATTRACTIVE to everyone of ALL AGES. Then they will come….

    It’s like providing a subsidized car to a place with no roads.

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  • Aimee Levens August 7, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I cancelled my car2go membership last year after repeated inexcusably bad service, inability to log out multiple times, cars that were rarely in the location on the map, poor and unsafe performance of the vehicles, and how quickly the fees skyrocket. I still have my Zipcar membership, who has finally gotten their act together and increased the number of vehicles in our neighborhood ( their service is pretty bad as well, but at least it’s a lot cheaper than car2go). As a car free family who hasn’t owned a car for almost 10 years, and still primarily relies on bikes & public transport, I find it hard to believe that car to go is seen as an entitlement for “blue collar” were cast as some say because this is a way way expensive service to use with any level of regularity.

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