Mpls City Council committee snubs Hourcar in favor of German car-sharing company

A council committee recommended awarding a contract for on-street car-sharing stalls to Car2Go rather than Hourcar.
A council committee recommended awarding a contract for on-street car-sharing stalls to Car2Go rather than Hourcar.

Last week, Mayor R.T. Rybak took to Facebook and characterized a City Council committee's recommendation to partner with Car2Go for an on-street expansion of the city's car-sharing program as "a great development for all our neighborhoods."

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But the committee's recommendation to work with Car2Go instead of local nonprofit Hourcar left many, including council member and mayoral candidate Gary Schiff, scratching their heads.

Car2Go is owned by Germany-based Daimler AG. While the company is capable of putting many more cars on the street than the local guys, Hourcar supporters point out that the reason the city was discussing an on-street right-of-way contract allowing car sharing companies to stash their vehicles in curbside parking spots in the first place was because Hourcar asked them to two years ago.

"Hourcar asked for help and all they got was an open door to their competition," Schiff told the Star Tribune. "I think the whole process is puzzling."

Schiff also took to Twitter to express his bewilderment:

In the wake of last week's vote, Hourcar representatives urged supporters to call council members and "use your voice as a valued HOURCAR member to tell the City to allow multiple car sharing options at curbside hubs."

"We want fairness, not exclusivity," the web post from Hourcar continued, alluding to the fact that Hourcar is fine with Car2Go expanding into Minneapolis as long as they have an opportunity to compete with them by also having access to some curbside sports.

Rybak stands by the committee's decision -- his spokesman, John Stiles, told the Strib, "The mayor believes that we need to go big... we've done this incrementally for a number of years and it's not meeting demand" -- but after last week's vote, staff members on the Transportation and Public Works Committee sent an email to City Council members asking them to send the contract back to the committee level for further review. It remains to be seen whether the full City Council rubber stamps the committee's recommendation or sends the on-street car-sharing contract back for another look.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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