HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's driving but without paying for gas, maintenance, mileage or insurance. Wednesday the Honolulu City Council will consider a bill that would allow car sharing companies to take street parking in Honolulu.
Enterprise is one company that is already trying to find its niche in the car sharing industry here in Honolulu and the City doesn't want to be left behind either."
Car sharing is growing in popularity in big cities around the world. Instead of renting a car for a day from the airport car sharing allows you to take a car for an hour or even by the minute. In some cases you can pick up and drop off the car in different locations.
"We do hope that car share becomes a viable option and people feel like they don't need to own a car where in the past they felt they had no choice," said Michael Formby, Honolulu Transportation Services Director.
It works when you sign up with a company like Enterprise, Zipcar or Car 2 Go. Then you use your key card or phone app to open the car doors. The keys are already inside and you're off.
The city is considering a bill that would allow car sharing companies to have dedicated stalls but that would take away street parking. Another option is to allow the sharing customers to park for free, but charge the company a flat rate.
"A lot of it depends on parking meter rates. We want to keep our options open. We don't want to short the City," said Formby. "It's part of the big picture. Multimodal options means you give people many ways to commute."
Owning a car can cost you $8,000 or more a year. Car sharing companies often charge an application fee and a monthly membership fee. Then charge you for the use which is anywhere from 41 cents a minute to $5 to $15 an hour. Gas, parking, mileage and insurance are all included. It's been popular in urban areas and near college campuses.
"For example if you live in a high rise apartment building you have access to vehicles in the parking lot or on the street basically 24/7," said Warren Doi, car share supporter. "Most people only use their car a few hours a day and yet they're spending thousands of dollars each year to own that vehicle."
Warren Doi started a car share company called Green Car Hawaii back in 2009, but it may have been ahead of his time. The company failed in large part because it had to pay Hawaii's high rental car surcharge even on an hour rental. Now that's been lifted.
"I think we've overcome some of the barriers," said Doi. "Especially if we can lay the infrastructure ahead of rail, it compliments rail very nicely."
"Honolulu is one of several cities worldwide that Zipcar is evaluating and we can confirm that Zipcar representatives have had conversations with City officials. At this point we don't have any additional details to share, but would be happy to keep you in the loop as we work to bring 'wheels when you want them' to more people in more places," said Jennifer Mathews, Zipcar Public Relations Manager in a written statement.
We did speak with the owner of Charley's Taxi who says she isn't worried about car sharing cutting into business.
Bill 65, the car sharing bill will go before the City Council for a vote Wednesday.