The program, which will include 20 EVs, will be based in Montreal's Le Plateau-Mont-Royal borough and will allow subscribers to use their smartphones to find available vehicles to drive. Interestingly, Communauto will use the same OPUS smart cards that are used with Montreal's public transportation system to enter the cars without a key. Rates will be 38 Canadian cents a minute, C$12 an hour and C$50 a day. Dollars on both sides of the border are just about equal, which makes Communauto a slightly better value than Car2Go.
Better yet, the local government is helping out the program by granting "universal parking permit" with the vehicles, meaning drivers can pretty much park in any legal parking area without needing a residential parking permit. Communauto's press release is available below.
Montreal, 16th of June, 2013 – Today, Communauto inaugurated on Le Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, the first 100% electric one-way carsharing service in Canada. As of today, some twenty vehicles will be available to citizens for trips from a point A to a point B, by simply passing an OPUS card previously registered in the Auto-mobile system.
The aim of the pilot project is to evaluate the benefits and impacts of such a service.
"The public consultation held on June 11th, about one-way carsharing, confirms the need to better document the effects this service will have on citizen's mobility and on other transportation services, while taking into account Montreal realities. We believe such a system should be positioned as to complement the existing service offer for short trips rather than placing it in competition with other sustainable transportation actors such as taxis, the STM, BIXI and carsharing with reservation," said Benoît Robert, CEO of Communauto.
"Le Plateau-Mont-Royal is delighted Communauto has chosen the borough for its pilot project. We have no doubt that this new service will be enthusiastically received by our residents, already exemplary in their transportation choices, at an unparalleled degree in the country. The use of a car is essential at times and Auto-mobile, in addition to traditional carsharing, offers maximum benefits with minimal disruptions for its users and for the society. For its part, the borough has commissioned a universal parking permit to minimize the constraints relative to parking the cars near the user's destination," added Luc Ferrandez, mayor of Le Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.
"We want to know the effects of such a project on Montrealers' travel habits. The environmental gains could be very significant on our greenhouse gas effects and air contaminants, if this service replaces gas-powered vehicle trips. As well as the use of urban space, if users get rid of their second car," says Daniel Bouchard, head of campaigns at the Conseil régional de l'environnement of Montreal.
Research is supported by various partners including researchers of the Mobilité Chair who will conduct surveys with the users and Taxi Diamond, the biggest provider of service for taxi allocation that will provide its point of view and data relative to taxi use. The Conseil régional de l'environnement also supports Communauto in this process. The embedded technology and software are provided by VU LOG CarSharing, a French SME.
Auto-mobile, a complement to other modes of transportation
Auto-mobile also implements practical actions to strengthen the complementarity with other modes of transportation, including public transportation and taxis.
The partnership announced by the organizing transport authorities (AOT) and Communauto last October has allowed for the electric vehicles to be equipped with a new device to authenticate the subscriber when he passes his OPUS card in front of the reader located under the windshield. The goal is to make the combined use of public transportation and carsharing easy and appealing in order to improve the mobility and lives of Montreal citizens.
Collaboration with the taxi is also essential for the functioning of the Auto-mobile service. For this reason, the Auto-mobile iPhone app, from which it is possible to identify nearby vehicles in one-way carsharing, always has the option to order a taxi through the Taxi Diamond mobile app.
In order to make easier the use of this transportation mode, Auto-mobile users will receive credit vouchers for taxi, based on their use of Auto-mobile.
VU LOG: An innovative technology
The project is possible thanks to the integration of a technology provided by VU LOG CarSharing, a French SME that is part of Europe's car-sharing technology leaders. They have developed, in particular, an expertise in one-way carsharing through several projects in France. For the Auto-mobile project, they provide the carsharing touch screen on-board computers, as well as client applications. Not only are they intuitive and easy to use but also fun to navigate. For example, clients will be able to locate all available vehicles through their smartphone. Not owning a car has never been so easy.
Auto-mobile: How does it work?
Communauto subscribers can now use this new service by registering their OPUS card number in the Auto-mobile system. Soon, people who are not Communauto subscribers will be able to use the service and take advantage of a free subscription.
Once registered, people will simply have to search for the nearest vehicles with their smartphone or on the Internet and block it for a few minutes in order to reach it. Once at the vehicle, they can use it immediately for their trip from point A to point B. The rates are $0.38 /minute, $12 /hour and $50 /day ( $0.10 /minute and $6 /hour until the 5th of July).
Parking is permitted on all unregulated curb areas and in the coming weeks, the borough will allow for the use of resident-only parking during the pilot project.
All information about the service and membership is available at www.communauto.com/auto-mobile.
Founded in 1994, Communauto is a company with an urban, social and environmental mission that serves more than 27,000 users thanks to a fleet of some 1,200 self-service cars, available 24/7, in combination with public transit and active transportation. Communauto vehicles are found in more than 390 stations, located in Montréal, the city of Québec, Gatineau and Sherbrooke. For more information on Communauto and its service points, visit the website www.communauto.com.