Aug. 11, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
A car sharing company hopes to better connect Brooklyn and Queens by expanding its network into the borough.
Car2Go, an international car share company with a fleet of vehicles in Brooklyn, has announced that it will expand to Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside, beginning Aug. 29.
Similar to Zipcar, Car2Go is a membership-driven, short-term car rental service. However, Car2Go allows drivers to take one-way trips, picking up a car in one neighborhood and dropping it in another. In this way it is more comparable to the Citi Bike system than to Zipcar, which currently only permits round trips.
The company operates in several cities in Europe, Canada and the U.S. Here in New York, Car2Go specifically aims to reach communities that are underserved by public transportation.
“A lot of [the City’s public transit] is geared towards just getting into Manhattan, and it can be very difficult to get around your own neighborhood and neighborhoods right next door,” Car2Go New York general manager Thomas McNeil said. “You’re going to see a lot of people use it get around Queens.”
Members pay a $35 sign-up fee and then take trips priced per minute, per hour or per day.
Car2Go’s fleet lives on City streets; drivers can drop off their cars at any legal, unmetered spot. The company has a playbook for dealing with alternate side parking and other rules.
The Queens expansion will put about 100 vehicles in western Queens, with a Car2Go team dedicated to maintaining that number, according to McNeil. The company presently has 450 cars in Brooklyn.
Regarding Queens’ parking density, McNeil said the company’s philosophy is that Car2Go vehicles – which are small, two-seat Smart Cars – will occupy under-utilized space.
“On any given block you’ll see a spot that is too small for a normal-sized car, but is perfect for a Smart Car,” he said. “What we’re really able to do is utilize spots that aren’t being used.”
Community Board 2 Chair Pat O’Brien was less optimistic.
“Unless the cars are atomic in size, or subatomic, they’re going to have an impact,” he said.
“We have an incredibly shrinking pool of on-street parking options for people who own vehicles, and this is a commercial enterprise,” he continued. “I don’t think on-street parking is there to facilitate commercial enterprise, it’s there for the benefit of the community as a whole.”
For her part, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz spoke positively about the expansion.
“We’re excited to see Car2Go bring a sustainable and sensible transit option to Queens – extending the reach of public transit and helping our residents get the most out of our borough,” she said in a statement released with the announcement.
Local officials who have been vocal about western Queens’ transit options have yet to take a position on Car2Go’s expansion.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Councilmen Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer declined to comment for this story.