New carsharing service Communauto launches in Calgary in 26-sq.-km zone

Calgary

New carsharing service Communauto launches in Calgary in 26-sq.-km zone

The official launch of Calgary's newest carsharing service will see 75 more cars added to the fleet, for a total of 150 vehicles on the road by the end of this month.

Communauto will operate with 150 Kia Rio vehicles, 25% of the Car2Go fleet

The fleet of 150 Communauto Flex cars will operate in a 26-square-kilometre zone around Calgary, and will operate via an app. Users will be able to park anywhere within the zone, which excludes the downtown. (Submitted by Communauto)

Calgary will finally have a carsharing service again, after nearly a year without. 

The Montreal-based carsharing service Communauto will officially launch in the city this weekend, operating on an app-based access system in select downtown neighbourhoods. 

Communauto Flex has been testing in Calgary for three weeks. The official launch will see 75 more cars added to the fleet of Kia Rio subcompacts, for a total of 150 cars on the road by the end of this month. That's about one-quarter the number of cars that had been in the Car2Go fleet, but the company says it will expand as demand grows.

“Calgarians and the City of Calgary have been very supportive,” Adrianna Rangeloff, branch manager of Communauto for Calgary, said in a release. “More than 1,000 people started the membership process even before its launch. With these 150 cars, we feel, we are just beginning to provide a reliable alternative to car ownership.”

To begin, the service will operate in a 26-square-kilometre zone that ranges from 50th Avenue S.W. to 21st Avenue N.W., and from 37th Street S.W. to 17th Street S.E.

For now, Communauto Flex will not operate in the downtown core. 

To use the service, Calgarians have to register at alberta.communauto.com and then download the company's app. When the program launches Saturday, users can locate a car and open it using the app.

The service has no monthly fee and its usage costs $0.45/minute, $15/hour or $50 for the first day and $35 the following days. Other plans are offered allowing people to use cars for $2.95/hour, plus $0.29/km, with fuel and insurance included.

Benoit Robert, CEO and founder of Communauto, announced the arrival of his company's carsharing service in Calgary on Aug. 27. The service launches officially on Sept. 19 and will offer a fleet of 150 cars by the end of the month. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

COVID-19 precautions will include sanitizing gel in the cars, requiring drivers to wash hands before and after use and disinfecting the cars on a weekly basis. 

The company said that during the three-week test phase, 83 per cent of the testers reported using the car for errands, 13 per cent for recreation and three per cent for social outings. The average one-way trip was 10 kilometres, and that ranged up to a maximum of 320 kilometres.

In order to promote the service, the company is offering all new members free trips of 30 minutes or less for one month, calling it the “unlimited Flex pass.”

Parking costs negotiated

Negotiations over where and how long the cars can be parked began earlier this year between the company and the city, and an agreement was reached on a tiered payment system.

Council approved a revised bylaw that will allow the vehicles to park beyond the posted time limits.

The company will pay the city around $840 per year per car, and that will allow users to park them in residential, unmetered and metered zones outside the downtown core. Users can park downtown, but they will have to pay for their own parking.

Car2Go, which started in 2013 in Calgary, pulled out of the city last October, citing, in part, the high cost of parking in Calgary.

“The city is pleased to see carsharing return to Calgary with the launch of Communauto's Flex service, said Eric MacNaughton, senior transportation engineer at the City of Calgary, in a release. “They are helping to provide an affordable and sustainable mobility option for Calgarians.”

Communauto was founded in Quebec in 1994 and now operates in 17 cities, including Edmonton. The firm has a fleet of more than 3,000 vehicles.

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