While many Calgarians are lamenting the current price at the pump, Arthur Gallant isn’t too worried about it.
“There’s just this overwhelming sense of relief that I don’t have to worry about how much gas is, because I know the price of gas is built into my membership fee,” Gallant told Global News.
Gallant is a user of Communauto, a Montreal-based car-sharing service that opened up shop in Calgary in the fall of 2020.
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The app-based service has 160 vehicles in operation in Calgary’s inner city neighbourhoods.
According to its Calgary branch manager Adrianna Rangeloff, the company has seen a steady increase in users as it attempts to fill the void left by Car2Go’s departure in 2019.
“We’re just another option alongside the bus and biking and scootering and walking,” Rangeloff said. “Sometimes you just need a car and that’s the gap we’re here to fill.”
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With many Calgarians returning to in-person work after the provincial work-from-home order was lifted last month and the high price of fuel, Rangeloff said the situation has encouraged people to think differently about how they get around.
“You can take it for five minutes, five hours or five days, it’s totally up to you,” Rangeloff said. “We include the gas, the parking and the insurance.”
Others in Calgary are subsidizing their vehicles with the use of Turo, a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform.
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According to the company, Turo has seen a 188 per cent increase in users in Alberta since March 2021.
The company’s Canadian vice president pointed to several factors behind the increase, including a shortage of rental cars.
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“When you combine this with the rising gas prices, it’s another incentive for people to list a car on the platform because it just makes car ownership more affordable,” Cedric Mathieu said.
“It’s a way to save on the cost of car ownership in general.”
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Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the uptick in car-share usage isn’t a surprise to him.
“We cannot underestimate the role that high gas prices play throughout North America, in terms of driving alternative decisions regarding how we get around our cities,” Carra said.
“That means making big lifestyle decisions to living closer to where they work, but that also means maybe shedding the second car for the family and getting into a ride-share environment.”
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According to Carra, Calgary “punches above its weight” for the alternative ride options the city has available.
In a statement to Global News, the City of Calgary said it has “created a clear and transparent set of policies for car-sharing companies which aim to make the market easy to understand and fair for all competitors.”
The statement went on to say that the policies have created a “level playing field for all interested carshare companies.”
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Carra said city council will continue to explore alternative options to get around the city.
“I think we will experience more opportunities as new technologies come online,” he said. “As Calgarians, we’ll embrace them both because we seem to embrace these things… and also because, for the first time ever, I think we’re going to be a lot more in step with the rest of North America in terms of our consumer choices being driven by high oil prices.”
Calgary Transit has also reported a slight increase in ridership.
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Transit officials said prior to the lifting of COVID-19 health measures on March 1, ridership was around 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
“Throughout March we have seen that number increase slightly each week and we are at approximately 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels,” Calgary Transit spokesperson Stephen Tauro said in a statement.
Calgary Transit said it expects that number to increase as more people return to in-person work.
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