Car-share parking spaces are under the microscope in Parramatta, with councillors concerned they are a waste of money and prime real estate.
The council has ordered a review and workshop into the allocation of parking spaces to car sharing schemes such as GoGet, which allow customers to book cars parked locally for private use.
Among the litany of concerns raised was that the current spaces were underused, that the council was left out of pocket and that the car sharing market was not competitive.
“I think the concept can work but I think to take a primary piece of real estate that is highly used in the CBD, I think that’s unfair to our ratepayers,” Liberal councillor Jean Pierre Abood said.
Parramatta has had GoGet spaces in the core of the city for several years, but the concerns were triggered when another company, Popcar, applied for spaces.
While car sharing has largely been an inner Sydney trend – there are 700 car share spaces and 26,000 users in the City of Sydney – demand has swelled in Parramatta.
Figures provided by GoGet, the dominant operator in Sydney, show that membership has increased 95 per cent in Parramatta during the past year.
There are 745 members and eight spaces for car sharing in Parramatta, with two on streets in the city core and others in council car parks, the Westfield shopping centre and Rosehill.
GoGet’s head of locations, Christopher Vanneste, said he expects at least a 10 per cent take-up of car sharing in outer metropolitan suburbs.
The company puts the huge increase in membership in Parramatta down to the addition of two more parking spaces in the city in the past year.
Mr Vanneste said plans for major residential development in Parramatta, such as the transformation of Camellia and the 700 apartment Aspire tower, made the suburb a hotspot for future car sharing schemes.
The City of Sydney has suggested that one car share vehicle can replace up to 12 private cars that would otherwise compete for local parking.
“Car sharing should be at the table at the same time as light rail and roads and other transport solutions,” Mr Vanneste said.
“Western Sydney, because they are doing all these new projects, they could leapfrog the inner city just by doing things better, designing a city and residential and commercial buildings around more shared car use.”
Granville Labor MP and Parramatta councillor Julia Finn said her council colleagues were out of touch by questioning the use of car-sharing schemes.
“They just don’t really seem to understand the idea,” Ms Finn said. “They are really backwards. I invite them to the 21st century.”
But Parramatta councillors are not alone in their reluctance to embrace car sharing.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay has previously raised concerns about the loss of “scarce street parking spaces” and internal emails revealed he wanted to remove every car share parking space from Sydney’s streets.
Parramatta resident Peter, who asked for his last name not to be published, said he had been a GoGet member for six months and had decided he no longer needed his car.
The university student said he lived near a train station so he only used a car occasionally for grocery shopping or trips away, and it was cheaper and more convenient not to own one.
“I found it wasn’t necessary for me to have a car and have to pay for parking and maintenance and it probably works out cheaper to use car sharing,” he said.