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Seattle Car Share Program Update

In January 2015, the Seattle City Council adopted legislation expanding the free-floating car share program, establishing revised permit fees, and delegating to SDOT the authority to set caps on the number of free-floating car share permits and operators by Director’s Rule.

To determine whether to cap the number of permits for 2016 and beyond, SDOT analyzed data from the 2015 annual free-floating car share member survey; the City’s 2014 and 2015 annual paid parking study; inquiries received by the public; and membership data provided by the current permitted operator.

Personal Vehicle Ownership: Based on data collected as a part of the 2015 annual free-floating car share survey, done in coordination with the University of California at Berkeley:

  • 14% of free-floating car share members in Seattle indicated that they have given up a vehicle since joining the service
  • Fifty percent of this group, or 7% of the total of those surveyed, indicated that this was at least partially due to the availability of free-floating car share.
  • Extrapolating these results to approximately 65,000 free-floating car share members in Seattle indicates that car-share users may have given up approximately 9,100 vehicles with approximately 4,550 of them related directly to the availability of free-floating car share services.

Neighborhood Business District Customer Access: In 2014 and 2015, the on-street parking data collection included a count of free-floating car share vehicles in each paid parking area. The 2015 data indicated that:

  • Occupancy of free-floating car share vehicles was generally less than 5% of available parking spaces
  • Free-floating car share vehicles typically parked for less time than most other vehicles, usually one hour or less
  • In 2015, SDOT received only one complaint from a neighborhood business district related to free-floating car share use of business district parking

Based on this data, free-floating car share vehicles have been shown to occupy a relatively small amount of business district on-street parking and those vehicles typically turn over more frequently, allowing other uses of and consistent customer and visitor access to the curb space.

Addition vehicles will increase the density of vehicles per service area, make them more easily available, and allow us to extend the service to low-income neighborhoods via City sponsored programs.

Research has indicated that shared mobility and transit working together to fill gaps provide connections and support car-light lifestyle.

Based on recent research by the Shared-Use Mobility Center and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) Washington DC, a City comparable in size to Seattle, has nearly 30 carsharing vehicles per 10,000 residents, while Seattle has fewer than 15 carsharing vehicles per 10,000 residents.

Based on the data collected and analysis, SDOT does not believe that the number of operators or permits per operator should be capped.

SDOT will continue working with operators to ensure they are distributing vehicles to provide equitable access throughout the city, and will evaluate the program annually to determine the extent it is achieving the free-floating car share program goals as established in the Seattle Municipal Code.