Torontonians will once again have access to free-floating car-share services starting next month.
The city announced Tuesday that it has issued its first permit since adopting a new framework to regulate car-share services.
Montreal-based Communauto is the first company to receive parking permits under the system and will begin offering its service in the city in November.
Free-floating car-sharing services typically allow people to reserve a nearby car with their cellphones and then use the vehicle for short, one-way trips. The service is typically used to fill gaps in transit service and by people who occasionally need a car, but not often enough to justify owning one.
Communauto says its first phase of operations in Toronto will begin with 200 cars over 50 square kilometres in the downtown core.
The company will initially offer its FLEX service, a pay-as-you-go structure with no monthly fees. Trips are priced at 41 cents per minute, $15 per hour, or $50 per day.
Users will be able to pick up and drop off cars at legal on-street parking spaces within the service area.
Speaking at a news conference announcing Communauto’s entry Tuesday, Mayor John Tory said the rules established for the new pilot strike a good balance in terms of promoting the benefits of car sharing, while responding to the concerns of residents.
“The council-approved free-floating pilot project aims to provide a clear regulatory framework to allow this type of car sharing rather than having companies continue to operate by illegally parking in residential areas downtown where permit parking is available and incurring massive numbers of unpaid parking tickets,” Tory said. “This pilot imposes reasonable restrictions with respect to that balance that we must seek when it comes to making our city work for everyone.”
In April, city council approved an 18-month pilot project for free-floating car-sharing as part of an effort to regulate the industry in the city.
But the city’s new regulations spurred the departure of the popular Car2Go service from Toronto. The company ceased operations in the city in May, saying that the new regulatory framework was too restrictive and effectively forced it to stop operating in Toronto.
In particular, the company took issue with price of per-vehicle permit fees and a rule that would prohibit car-share vehicles from being parked on any residential street where 95 per cent or more of all available permits have already been taken.
Communauto said Tuesday that if the city decides to extend the new regulatory framework beyond the 18-month pilot window, it hopes to eventually expand to have more than 500 cars and service an area extending as far north as Eglinton Avenue.
The city said that up to 2,000 parking permits for car-share vehicles will be issued through the pilot, with no more than 500 going to any one company.