Central Saanich council plan to partner with car-sharing company Modo, with three cars available by summer 2019.
B.C. company Modo maintains a fleet of 700 cars and says it has over 20,000 members. Users pay a $500 deposit, which they get back if they decide to leave the service or move out of province. Cars are stationed in convenient places to be booked via app, and cost $5 an hour and 30 cents a kilometer. Users say it is an easy and environmentally friendly alternative to mass car ownership. At the moment, the company has cars stationed in Victoria, Kelowna and the ferry terminals at Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay.
Following council’s decision, a three-year pilot partnership will be established with Modo. Modo will provide three cars, one in Brentwood Bay and two in Saanichton.
Although all cars would be available to the public, one of the two, an electric vehicle, will be stationed near municipal hall. Council predict their personnel will use the car enough for a fleet vehicle to be struck from their budget, saving money.
If the pilot proves successful within the first year, another car would be added to Brentwood Bay.
Coun. Zeb King is delighted at the decision, something he’s been campaigning to happen for 16 years.
“It’s great,” he said, before adding, “it will only work if people sign up, so the municipality has agreed to a backstop.”
For the scheme to be worthwhile to Modo, their base operation costs are $63,000 so the council will put up the money as a backstop and try to recoup the fee later on through property taxes developers pay called “amenity contributions.”
Property developers in Saanichton will pay an extra $500 per new housing unit they build and the homeowners who buy each unit will receive a free $500 Modo license, each one chipping away at the $63,000 backstop. So far, 75 memberships have been secured.
Additionally, there will be a usage revenue guarantee of $12,000 council agreed to pay if the cars aren’t used enough within a year. King and his fellow councillors hope people will sign up to use the cars, as that fee will drop when usage thresholds are met.
Coun. Carl Jensen is pleased to offer residents an alternative mode of transport.
“It is important to keep advocating for public transit as car sharing at $5 an hour can be too expensive for some people, but I’m supportive of it, and I’m pleased to add an alternative for our residents.”
Jensen, who used to use a Victoria car sharing service before they were absorbed by Modo, says car sharing is especially useful for people who normally use the bus, but need to get somewhere quickly or move bulky goods, like after a trip to the hardware store.
King is delighted with the new arrangement and jokes that his persistence has finally paid off.
“My message to new councillors is don’t give up if you’re pushing for something. You just need to stick with it for 16 more years.”