New car-sharing program Communauto hits Calgary streets
CALGARY -- A new car-sharing program, Communauto Flex, launched in Calgary on Thursday with a fleet of 150 vehicles.
“I am very happy to recover part of my roots here, and to contribute to the development of eco-mobility in a province where nature and outdoor activities occupies such a large place,” said CEO and founder Benoit Robert.
Communauto began in Quebec City in 1994 and operates in 13 others Canadian cities in southern Ontario and in Quebec. The car share program is also now available in Edmonton.
Users of the platform will be charged by the minute, hour or day without having to pay for a membership.
Officials say more vehicles will be added to the Calgary fleet in the coming weeks.
During a press conference Thursday, Robert responded to questions about expanding during a pandemic.
“We know that you have safety measures. When you touch something in a public area, you don’t put your hands on your face, that’s the first thing," he said.
"The other thing to mention is that a vehicle is a closed environment so, just by that, it's a safer environment than a lot of places we can go."
Each car will be equipped with hand sanitizer and users have the option to use 15 free minutes at the beginning of each session to sanitize the Kia sedans, using their own supplies like wipes.
Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley said similar questions arose with the reintroduction of e-scooters this spring.
“People need these mobility tools to get in and around to work,” he said.
"Individual responsibility is such a critical component of this. If having cars on the roads can help alleviate congestion on public transit, all of these things fit together.”
Some Calgarians walking through the Eau Claire neighbourhood near the site of the announcement said they would welcome the return of this type of company.
“I think it’s great, less cars on the road. Not everyone has transport in the winter so it's really great to have that and it's good to share,” said Krista Gibbons.
“When (Car2Go) was here, I used it all the time it was great just getting around downtown and being able to leave it, and it obviously cuts down on traffic which is pretty bad in Calgary” said Alex Ladoon.
Communauto will add to Calgary’s landscape of alternative transportation and ride-sharing.
Turo is another car sharing company that instead operates with a peer-to-peer business model and doesn’t provide a fleet of vehicles — but says Calgary is its fastest growing market.
Launching in Canada in 2016, drivers offer up their own vehicles when they aren’t using them and earn money from trips through its app.
The month of July saw a 47 per cent spike in year over year bookings.
“It shows that there is pent up demand for local travel and easy access to cars,” said Cedric Mathieu, head of Canadian operations with Turo.
Calgary has been without a communal car operation since car2go pulled out its free-floating service in October 2019, simultaneously with several other North American cities.
Officials with car2go told CTV News that its membership grew over its seven years to 143,118 members with a fleet of 600 smart cars and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.