Winnipeggers take to Peg City Car Co-op as fleet, user base grows
Seeing signs for designated Peg City Car Co-op parking spots used to be rare enough to be notable, a novel topic of conversation around Winnipeg dinner tables. A dozen years after the co-op’s launch—with a grand total of three cars—in 2011, those Peg City signs seem to be everywhere you look.
There are now over 130 vehicles in the co-op’s fleet, and if growing membership numbers are any indication, that number may soon not be enough.
“We’re on track to sign up 600 new members this year,” says Michelle Panting, Marketing and Communications Specialist at Peg CityPeg City Car Co-op. “That will bring our membership to roughly 3,600 before October.”
Michelle says adding these 600 new members represents a 20% increase in membership in the last year.
That’s a big jump. What gives?
According to Michelle, it’s a combination of things.
“We’re seeing more sign-ups in the summer months as people who may not have cars want to travel around the province, and we’re also seeing people with dormant accounts activating again so they can use the co-op. In addition, there’s growth in newcomer registration. Car sharing is a great fit for many newcomers, especially if they live centrally.”
Michelle adds it isn’t only individuals signing up. “A lot of organizations are now choosing to have a car co-op membership. It can be a great fit, especially for smaller community organizations that may not have a company vehicle in the budget.”
New FLO program makes pick-up and drop-off even easier
Part of the growth may be attributable to FLO, a new program launched by Peg City that gives users even more flexibility when it comes to pick-up and drop-off times and locations. There are now 35 FLO cars throughout Winnipeg, on top of 95 FIX vehicles with designated parking spots, making it even easier to get around town with Peg City Car Co-op.
The co-op has also made it easier to book and use its expanding fleet of vehicles. Peg City recently modernized their digital experience for co-op members, including launching a mobile app that makes the free-floating FLO program possible.
“Previously, we were only able to offer bookings on desktops or a mobile version of the site from a web browser,” explains Michelle. “With the amount of people accessing the internet almost exclusively on their smartphones, that was a barrier for us and them. The app allows people to see the locations of our FLO cars while using our other services.”
A greener way to travel
The largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Manitoba is transportation, which represents nearly half of the personal emissions for households.
A number of factors, including increasing awareness of the environmental costs of car ownership as well as mandates from governments to reduce environmental footprints, are changing attitudes toward car ownership.
Younger generations are not as eager to own a vehicle. The ever-increasing cost to buy and run it, including insurance and parking costs, make ownership less and less attractive.
That’s where car-sharing comes in. Members of the co-op can pick up a car from designated spots around the city, use it for travel, errands, or other tasks that need a vehicle, and then return it for another member to use.
Data collected by the co-op shows members tend to sell their own cars and use a co-op vehicle less, leading to as much as a 60% drop in transportation emissions by those individuals. It’s the equivalent of taking up to 15 cars off the road—and with plans to electrify the fleet, Peg City Car Co-op is only raising the environmental bar.
“A minimum of a third of any new vehicles purchased in the fleet are now hybrid electrics,” says Michelle. “We’re working on piloting three fully electric vehicles with charging infrastructure downtown by fall 2024. And as we aim to hit 200 vehicles in our fleet in the next few years, we’re more and more committed to purchasing electric and hybrid electric vehicles.”
Building a fleet with ACU
When it comes to expanding and modernizing the fleet, ACU has an important role to play.
Peg City Car Co-op is member-owned and driven, with over 3,000 members in the co-op, ranging in age from around 18 to over 70. ACU provides financing for cars purchased by the co-op, playing an integral role in the success of the local company.
Beyond the great financial services they provide, Michelle says the co-op appreciates ACU’s commitment to local businesses and community organizations.
“We’re aligned in a lot of ways. ACU has a focus on local business and partnerships in the community, and helps promote the co-op. We also have a lot of people who’ve been involved with both organizations. In fact, our board chair works at ACU.”
How the co-op works
To join the co-op, members buy a $500 share. They then pay a monthly membership fee for access to the vehicles, plus an hourly and kilometer fee for usage. If they choose to leave, their $500 share is returned to them. Prospective members may also choose to join at the Casual tier, with no member share purchase required.
There are different levels of memberships available for individuals, companies and non-profit organizations. The co-op has also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through investor share offerings, where investors receive a 45% community economic development tax credit from the provincial government.
Co-op CEO drives, bikes and walks the talk
Members buy into more than an organization or car-sharing service—they also buy into an idea. And at Peg City Car Co-op, commitment to this idea goes all the way to the top.
Philip Mikulec, CEO of Peg City Car Co-op, does not own a car. He’s an avid cyclist and a firm believer that every city should have a diverse transportation model. With a degree in city planning, he takes a much broader view of the issues facing modern cities. He believes there is a place for cars, pedestrians, public transit, bikes, taxis, ride-share companies and, yes, car co-ops too.
According to Philip, the City of Winnipeg has been great to work with and very supportive, especially with infill development projects.
“When an apartment is built, the developer must create a certain number of parking spots for each unit. When the dwelling is an infill project, that parking requirement is drastically reduced due to the presence of companies like us. This attracts more infill development, which is great for the city.”
Travelling soon? Now you can take your membership abroad
Although car co-ops can be found throughout Canada and around the world, Peg City is an independent company modeled after a similar Vancouver co-op, Modo. Along with constantly looking to expand its pick up and parking stations to serve more members locally, the co-op recently entered into roaming partnerships with other car-sharing companies in Canada, including Communauto, a car-sharing service that operates in fifteen Canadian cities as well as Paris, France.
The trend toward car-sharing does not appear to be letting up – and as this local success story continues to grow, it will continue to rely on ACU as they work together to strengthen local economies, create opportunities for people in our communities, and build business models committed to environmental leadership.
To learn more, or to set up a membership, visit pegcitycarcoop.ca.
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