By Andy Thornley

Vehicle sharing is a great option for getting around and doing the things we all need to do with a car, without having to own a car. Whether it’s for running errands, visiting friends, or making a day trip to the beach, vehicle sharing services help give people access to “just enough car” and help reduce car ownership and the pressure on parking spaces. That’s good for household budgets, good for roadway and curb congestion, and good for the environment.

San Francisco has long embraced car sharing as a policy-positive tool, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has elevated car sharing as a mode choice to prioritize and facilitate as part of its strategic planning and operations. In addition to extending reserved parking permit fee discounts to qualified vehicle sharing organizations (VSO’s) at the 19 city-owned garages, the SFMTA administers an on-street car share parking permit program, stationing shared vehicles right at the curb, making them visible and available to all.

In 2017, following a large-scale pilot program, the On-Street Shared Vehicle Permit Program grants permits to VSOs, establishing clearly marked curbside parking spaces for dedicated shared vehicle use. Monthly permit fees range from $20-$130, depending on the section of the city in which a permitted space is located; permittees are also obliged to gather and share utilization data with the agency, and while shared vehicles parked in designated on-street spaces are exempt from street cleaning enforcement, permittees must maintain parking spaces as clean as if they’d been swept by a street cleaner.

Convenient vehicle sharing helps give people the flexibility to sell their car or forego buying one. One of the key findings in the pilot program evaluation was that the average on-street shared vehicle in San Francisco is used by 19 different people each month, with some shared on-street vehicles used by 30 or 40 or 60 different neighbors. Beyond saving users money and time, this sort of space utilization can really help to squeeze the most out of finite and contested curb.

For more information on the program, visit the SFMTA website:

Andy Thornley is a senior administrative analyst in the Parking & Curb Management section of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.