- Car-sharing service car2go is suspending operations in Toronto, saying that new city rules requiring the service to pay almost $1,500 per car for parking permits and limiting space availability made its service "inoperable," the Toronto Star reported.
- Toronto had 80,000 active car2go users, according to the company, and had seen 51% growth since 2016.
- The company also announced it would cease operations in Columbus, OH at the end of the month because of low ridership, the Columbus Underground reported.
The exit from Toronto follows a months-long feud with the city over proposed "free-float" parking rules, which also would have limited parking on streets where nearly all of the spaces were occupied by permits. City residents had complained about the cars taking up valuable space on their streets and staying overnight. After car2go threatened to leave the city, the city council did order staff to review the regulations, but ultimately decided not to overturn them in the face of the company’s threats.
The dispute calls to mind friction in other cities between new technology and regulations, notably when Uber and Lyft both fled Austin, TX over a fingerprinting requirement for its drivers (they returned in 2017 after a state law overturned the regulation). It was a comparison not lost on Councilor Gord Perks, who said, “I’m not going to be bullied the way that Uber and Airbnb tried to bully this council.” Having the council stand firm and car2go follow through on its threat to leave underscores the bitterness of the conflict, and how many new entrants thrive in unregulated environments.
The situation in Columbus is one of fit; company communications manager Kendall Kelton told Columbus Underground that factors ranging from population density to transit options meant "Columbus residents did not adopt our service the way residents of cities like NYC, DC and Seattle have over the past several years." Despite that, Transit Columbus board member Iike Akcasoy wrote for Columbus Underground the service had been a good supplement to existing public transportation, especially to solve the first mile, last mile problem.
Overall, car2go reported 30% year-over-year growth in 2017 and crossed the 3 million member mark in January, a strong sign for the company’s overall prospects despite setbacks in some markets. Though the growth of dockless bikes and scooters may add competition in the company’s market by offering other free-floating options.