Sorry, St. Johns and points east of 60th/62nd. You don't make the Car2Go cut.
Citing a lack of demand, the useful and maddening car service announced today it'll no longer allow users to park or pick up a ride in huge swaths of outer Portland beginning on August 24. The company's new "home range" (the area where the car will allow you to "end" a trip and stop being charged):
This is bad news, and contrary to the service equity Portland tries (with very mixed success) to keep in mind. I don't own a car, and I'll admit Car2Go has proven really useful in times of need/emergency to fill that void (particularly since roughly half the fleet now has bike racks). That same ease is now shut off to parts of the city that already have access to fewer amenities than the close-in 'hoods bursting with the awkward-driving white Smart cars.
Car2Go says it comes down to numbers. The company is saying cars sit untouched four times longer in low-usage areas, " ultimately affecting overall vehicle availability for the Portland membership base, as well as parking for the Portland community." It also says its reduced range accounts for 92 percent of the demand.
"By modifying the Home Area size to areas where car2go trips occur the most, we believe that this change will help ensure that our vehicles are in constant circulation, and only occupying fixed space for a limited amount of time."
One way to look at it, East Portland and St. Johns, is that you'll no longer have to circle the block trying to find a sweet spot where the car will connect to a satellite and allow you to end your session.
I've left a message to speak with the company. Will update when I hear back.
Update, 11:23 am: Car2Go spokeswoman Adrianne Wright is painting the move as 100 percent customer focused.
"Cars had been sitting on the street for a day, two days, three days at a time" in the lower-frequency areas, Wright says. "About 90 percent of our members in Portland were expressing that vehicle availability was an issue."
Does that sound right? I can think of just one time when a car wasn't within a few blocks when I needed it, and even then it was only because I needed a bike rack. Car2Go has a fleet of 530 Smart cars in Portland, and all of them will remain on the streets when the changes take effect, Wright says.
She's based in Austin, so I explained that the places Car2Go is pulling service are many of the same places that have traditionally been underserved by any number of resources. She says that company will continue to look at its usage patterns and update its service accordingly.
"We want to service those areas, but if the cars aren’t being used at the end of the day, then it’s an issue," Wright says.
By the way, the company recently announced a similar service reduction in Austin.