Car2Go, a service that allows users to rent vehicles for short trips, may soon be coming to Bexley.
At their Aug. 12 meeting, City Council members discussed the first reading of an ordinance that would authorize Mayor Ben Kessler to enter into an agreement with Car2Go that would allow vehicles to be stationed at various points throughout the city.
"What this agreement does is it allows cars to park in time-restricted areas that aren't travel lanes or permit-restricted areas," Kessler said. "It's akin to a public transport, in a sense."
Nicholas Hill, a location manager with Austin, Texas-based Car2Go, said the service has operated in a 33-square-mile area in Columbus since October 2013. The company has 45 dedicated parking spots at Port Columbus International Airport, Ohio State University, Easton Town Center and Grandview Heights.
"Our vehicles are able to be taken from Point A to Point B, so if you live here in Bexley and you want to go Downtown, you're able to do that and you only pay for the 15 minutes of drive time," Hill said. "You can park at a metered spot without paying the meter, based on the arrangement we have with the city of Columbus."
Car2Go's arrangement with Columbus reimburses the city for time that the company's vehicles are parked at meters. The company's proposed agreement with Bexley would enable Car2Go vehicles to be parked in any parking spot except for areas on Main and Broad streets and areas where parking is restricted, such as College Avenue, Kessler said.
The agreement would be for one year, beginning Nov. 1, with either side having the ability to terminate it with a 30-day notice.
"I would suggest it's a one-year trial. If it doesn't go well, no harm, no foul," Kessler said. "We've had requests for this service (from residents). I think it's an amenity to residents."
Councilman Tim Madison said he's concerned that Car2Go vehicles may end up taking parking spaces away from residents who live near busy thoroughfares. He also noted that the proposed agreement wouldn't generate any revenue for the city.
"We have tried as a council to generate alternative revenue, and you're a private company coming to us asking you to give you something and we're not getting anything in return," Madison told Hill.
Hill said the company tracks the location of all of its vehicles through global positioning systems and aims to move them within 48 hours. He said the company's agreements with municipalities usually involve no fees other than reimbursing municipalities for the time that Car2Go vehicles are parked at meters and paid parking spaces. The company offers sponsorships for community events and promotes itself as a way for municipalities to attract and retain residents who may not otherwise have access to a car, Hill added.
"The folks that are using (Car2Go) to and from Bexley live in Bexley or are coming to shop in Bexley," Hill said. "If a Drexel movie is seen rather than a movie at the Lennox Town Center, that's a benefit to Bexley."
Councilwoman Deneese Owen said she's not sure whether Car2Go is right for Bexley, but making the service available may be an opportunity to attract younger residents.
"If we're looking long-range at drawing folks to Bexley, drawing those younger populations from Downtown to go to the Drexel, to go to our restaurants, to participate in the community, it's something to consider that these are folks that are less likely to own cars and go places where they're going to have to own a car," she said.
Sherwood Road resident Jamie Folten said she likes the concept of Car2Go and recently became a member, but is also interested to see how the service will affect parking on residential streets.
"We have a son who has an old car, (which) may or may not be reliable, occasionally wants to come home, and (Car2Go) would be a good option," she said. "I like the idea of a one-year trial to see how it goes."
Council is scheduled to address the second reading of the Car2Go ordinance at its Aug. 26 meeting.