Op-Ed: Let All Car Share Companies Have Access To Municipal Parking Lots


I have been following the recent announcement of the De Blasio administration to set aside on street and municipal street parking for the specific use of car share companies Enterprise and Zipcar.

While the announcement was a step forward for the industry, it was a step backward for a free market and competition. Let me explain.

I am the founder and President of Carpingo, a New York City-based car share company which operated between 2013 and 2015. I have been active in both car rental and car share through my 30+ years in the industry having seen the growth and evolution of car share. I founded Carpingo realizing the importance of car ownership has been steadily declining having been replaced by car share.

Back then, I would visit parking lots throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan inquiring about parking. Once I advised the operator my need was for placement of car share vehicles the initial approve was rescinded as I was told the operator has an exclusive with Zipcar prohibiting access to other car share companies. I tried arguing consumer choice, anti trust,  monopolization of the industry all to no avail. Ironically car rental companies coexist in all airport terminals yet cannot coexist in the parking lots of NYC.

If NYC really wanted to expand access to car share as they have with Citi Bike they need to allow car share in all parking lots regulated by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.

Access to cars and parking  provide the oxygen allowing car share companies to survive. NYC has hundreds of parking lots which are underutilized however they are contractually barred from offering space to car share companies as Zipcar has demanded and extracted concessions that these parking lots provide Zipcar with exclusive access.

During the press conference announcing this new initiative, several reporters pointed out that the rental rates cited by the Mayor were actually higher in reality. Competition lowers prices. My company consistently lower priced than Zipcar. Zipcar is often out of cars or has requirements my company did not have.

If NYC is serious about providing car share to the masses, require parking lots to drop their exclusive parking arrangements with Zipcar. Competition is good.

We have competitors operating side by side everywhere, airlines, supermarkets, shipping, car manufacturing, shopping malls but not in Manhattan parking lots.

Gil Cygler is the former president of  Carpingo and Allcar Rent A Car. He is also the former executive board member, Car Share Association and American Car Rental Association