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New York City Council Considers Perks of Car-Sharing Programs

Parking is another topic on the minds of the New York City Council. Yesterday, it met to discuss plans to set aside public spaces for private car-share companies. It’s a suggestion which would help manage a notoriously limited resource for the city’s drivers. Margaret Spiegelman reports.

((SOUND: Car beeping (0:01)

SPIEGELMAN 1: Jose Tapia needs his car everyday to get into Manhattan for work. But he says finding a parking spot near his home gets harder every year. (0:09)

TAPIA: When I have a good parking space, I’d rather walk here. And I live in the Bronx. Because then, when I’m going back home, 1-2 hours looking for parking, sometimes even more. (0:10)

SPIEGELMAN 2: And it may get even harder, if the City Council approves plans to set aside public parking spaces for private companies like ZipCar and Car2Go. Russell Murphy is Chief of Staff for Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who heads the City Council’s Transportation Committee. He says the plans are in line with Rodriguez’s long-term goals. (0:25)

MURPHY: One of the Councilmember’s big goals is to reduce car ownership in New York City. We live in one of the most densely populated cities in the world and so much street space, so much physical space is dedicated to automotive vehicles, and a lot of it even to personal vehicles. So if we’re able to cut down on some of that, that opens up opportunities for those spaces to be used by other things that might be important to New Yorkers. (0:24)

SPIEGELMAN 3: Things like affordable housing and open green space. But the car-share program itself is designed with a particular set of New Yorkers in mind. (0:10)

MURPHY: These are usually New Yorkers who are looking to take short-term trips, whether to go grocery shopping and need a car to do it, or to visit friends in other parts of the city that may not have great car access, or even little weekend trips out of the city for the day. (0:14)

SPIEGELMAN 4: The city would work with car-share companies that provide hourly and daily rentals. They would set aside spaces for these companies both at public meter spots around the city, and in the city’s municipal lots, which are mostly in the outer boroughs. Murphy says this would give car-shares more visibility and make it easier for people to use them. Zipcar subscriber Samuel Katz, in Washington Heights, uses the service to take trips with his wife and young daughter. He says the plans sound like a good idea. (0:30)

KATZ: Makes sense. For me it’s very convenient because there’s a parking garage right by my building, so it’s right downstairs, its very easy, but I understand for most people it would be more convenient. (0:07)

SPIEGELMAN 5: Neighbor Joanna Dragich thinks so, too, although having her own car still comes in handy, since she lives so far uptown. Whether she’s ready to give that up? (0:10)

DRAGICH: (Spiegelman: Do you think you’d use– you’d give up your car?) Not right now but I guess making public transportation a little more accessible to people would be a good idea. (0:13)

SPIEGELMAN 6: In this case, part public, part private. Murphy, in Councilman Rodriguez’s office acknowledges that there hasn’t been an outpouring of public support for the idea. City Council has fought similar battles over Citibike, another public-private initiative. So cutting down on car ownership by making way for car-shares could be a hard sell. (0:23)

For Columbia Radio News, this is Margaret Spiegelman.

Margaret Spiegelman is a Master’s student in journalism and computer science. You can reach her at


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