DENVER -- Downtown Denver is getting some new parking spots for car share vehicles only.
The parking spots are specifically reserved for vehicles belonging to a car sharing company. Each company can obtain a permit for one or two of the 28 dedicated parking spots downtown.
Permits cost $750 each per space for a downtown Denver spot. The city plans to expand the parking spots for areas around downtown as well.
Once a company buys a permit, they can attach their logo to a city sign above the parking spot and that company's vehicles can park there for free.
"We want to keep these clear for the car share members," said Robert Ferrin of Denver Public Works.
Of the 28 dedicated spots, Car2Go and Zipcar received seven each, Hertz 24/7 received 10 and eGo CarShare received four, including two it already has reserved.
Ferrin said no parking spaces are being taken away. Rather, the city looked for unused space, like the corners of intersections.
Denver Public Works hopes car sharing programs will reduce overall parking demand downtown. A single car share vehicle can help reduce parking demand by 9 to 13 vehicles, Ferrin said referring to a 2010 study by the Journal of Transportation Research.
"When you have a robust fleet of car share vehicles throughout the city, people start to rely on those vehicles and don’t have to park their personal vehicles on the street," he said.
Car sharing programs have greatly expanded in the Denver in the last few years, following a national trend.
According to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California at Berkley, more than 890,000 people in the U.S. are members of a car sharing program. That's up from about 806,300 in July last year and 560,500 the year before.
One of the larger providers, Car2Go, launched in the city earlier this year and plans to have a 300-car fleet.
Zipcar started its program in August with about 30 vehicles.
Each car share program differs from their competitors with different rules and prices.
For example, Car2Go follows a point-to-point model where renters pay 38 cents a minute and can leave the vehicle in any authorized spot in a "home area" that includes most of central Denver.
Round trip or "classic" car sharing typically sees customers reserve a car for an hour or more for a flat fee and must return to car to its original parking spot. Companies like Occasional Car and eGo CarShare use this model.