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Car sharing catching on in city

River Market, Modo team up to provide parking for a co-op minivan at the market

Surging gas prices and a lean toward going green have driven up the demand for car-sharing services, like Modo, and now the not-for-profit car co-op is branching out in New Westminster.

The River Market recently offered up a parking space for a Modo minivan at the market. Modo members can pick up or drop off the Modo vehicle at the market.

"I think the values of the two organizations are very well-aligned," said River Market director Mark Shieh. "We looked at other sharing options, and we felt Modo had the most variety of cars. With Modo you have access to a whole range of cars."

The car co-op fits into the market's overall concept, called Food 360, which encourages sustainable eating and living.

"We see the River Market as a hub of activity for the community, and having the Modo-car sharing here at the market is another activity you can do at the market," Shieh said. "For example, if you were a Modo member, you could pick up a car here and when you return it you could do you grocery shopping.

"Our bigger mission is to eventually get to a zero-waste market. We're not there yet, but the idea of reducing carbon emissions is a part of that."

The River Market is an ideal Modo location because of its foot traffic, proximity to transit and high visibility, said Modo marketing director Bernice Paul.

"In general, New West is really developing," Paul said. "We are seeing a lot of support from the City Of New Westminster. They believe in sustainable transportation, and they want to see car-sharing grow."

There are a number of Modo members who live in New West, and Paul praises their patience for waiting for more cars to come here.

"This is our fifth car now in New Westminster, and they've been really patient with it. In downtown Vancouver we have such density of vehicles that a member doesn't have to go very far to get to a car," Paul said. "Just think of how much commitment these members have shown us in New Westminster, through the years, to go all the way to a SkyTrain station that may not be close to their home, to use a vehicle. Their support and commitment has been a big reason why now we are finally at a growth stage, and we can add more cars."

Modo recently announced that it's adding more than 20 new locations in Metro Vancouver this spring. The car-share has spent more than $1 million purchasing new vehicles since last fall.

As a car-sharing co-operative, members purchase shares in the co-op to become part owners, then pay an hourly rate to use the vehicles. To learn more about Modo and how it works, visit www.