Opinion: car2go’s Departure Should Refocus Investment Toward Public Transit
In the past few years, Columbus has embarked on a collective journey to enhance mobility in our community. The recent announcement of car2go’s decision to discontinue services in Columbus has come as a blow to all of us whose excitement has grown around the recent energy and investments into Columbus’ transportation system.
In this moment, it is important to remember why COTA and public transit in general are so important. COTA exists to move people in our city, to connect us with jobs, and to create a better city for all. Public transit does not exist to make a profit and does not respond to the whims of the market. Mass transit is a public resource that you can rely on, that you know will be there today and tomorrow.
Car2go was introduced to our city in 2013 as the first of several companies to bring innovative car-sharing services to Columbus. Its inauguration paved the way for other world-class providers like Uber and Lyft to launch in our city, even if it meant fiercely fighting for a place in the current system.
Free-floating car-sharing (or bike-sharing) systems are elegant and convenient by design. They excel at putting the customer journey at the center of their design, and they seek to mirror the lifestyle of the communities that use them. How many of us travel regularly is exactly how these systems travel.
Routes constantly change and move along with each itinerary, like a relay run with a citywide participation and a non-fixed route. This is exactly why they offer such an appealing solution to first-mile/last-mile modality. These services have inspirited us to — in many ways — rethink how our public transit system functions and how we can create better transit in the future. These systems not only validate that we have complementary itineraries, but they also prove that, indeed, we are a community with shared goals, joys and interests.
While it may be too late to save car2go, it isn’t too late to double down on public transit in Columbus, as long as we are willing put our money where our mouth is. At Transit Columbus we believe that the future of transit in our city is quick, convenient, affordable, flexible, and, most of all, reliable.
We believe in public/private partnerships, especially for sustainable first-mile/last-mile solutions that complement a strong, high-quality, mass transit system, moving people and connecting them with jobs, food, healthcare, and other fundamental resources in Columbus. Public transit and multi-modality bring people together and allow them to build stronger communities through shared, all-encompassing journeys.
We’re very saddened by the loss of car2go, because this service has been an invaluable part of the Columbus multimodal transportation toolkit. We remain optimistic about the future of car-sharing in Columbus, but we are emboldened by this loss to redouble our effort to bring even more convenient high-quality public transportation to Columbus. This reminds us of the major need for transit in Columbus, and we are committed to improving transit now more than ever.