By Matt Conti
At this month’s meeting of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), General Manager of ZipCar Boston, Jeremy Pomp, discussed the company’s involvement in the City of Boston’s 3-month old pilot “Drive Boston” car share program recently implemented in the North End. ZipCar is using two on-street spots on Cross Street, former residential parking spaces located in front of the Fulton Street lot.
Another car rental company, Enterprise, was granted two parking spaces on Commercial Street near the Coast Guard station as part of the 18-month pilot.
Car-share companies have traditionally made their cars available in private and municipal parking lots and garages. Under the City’s pilot “Drive Boston” program, residential on-street parking spots are being granted to the rental companies in exchange for a $3,500 annual fee to the city. At the meeting, ZipCar noted that the use of on-street parking spaces is intended to greater publicize car share options and increase availability. The car share companies are responsible for moving the cars for street cleaning and during snow emergencies.
General Manager Pomp said that each ZipCar generally replaces 15 equivalent cars and serves 40 of their members. In dense urban neighborhoods like the North End, ZipCar estimates its impact is greater with 80 members being served by each of their cars. He noted that ZipCar’s customer service scores have increased over 300% from North End members in the three months since the on-street pilot program was rolled out.
Active ZipCar member and North End resident, Britney Collins, spoke on behalf of the ZipCar and the “Drive Boston” municipal program. She said initially she was not aware of the ZipCar availability in garages and the on-street program makes car-sharing more accessible.
Council members spoke positively about ZipCar and car-sharing in general, but a lengthy debate ensued on the “Drive Boston” pilot program in the North End. Several members questioned why City Hall is granting on-street residential parking to car rental companies in addition to parking lots and garages. For example, the ZipCar on-street car share spaces are located adjacent to a city-owned parking lot.
ZipCar said they will be releasing a study with specific data of how the program is working from the 18-month pilot program.