Being the ultimate consumer product service system (PSS) I am of course a big fan of Zipcar — (and Streetcar — its competitor) — the pay-as-you-go car service. And now I find out (on PSFK) they are doing more smart service things in London; they are using their solutions approach to partner with a company that lets people share cars and parking spaces. PSFK describes it as "one of the coolest and most functional partnerships we've seen recently". ParkatmyHouse.com is a new service that provides parking spaces by enabling property owners to rent out their driveways, garages, car parks or other bits of land to drivers that need somewhere to park. And they've just partnered with Zipcar to enable then to expand over London by providing more places to park Zipcars across the city and better access to a pool of car-sharers. It's service system fantastic.Each parking space renter will receive their usual payment for the space plus £85 worth of free driving credit with Zipcar. So empty spaces aren't only being sold to car using, but the partnership promotes the use and access to shared vehicles in the city.
Yes, it is possible that encouraging driving in an already congested city is, in theory, not very green, but there are, (I believe), some real benefits from a service like this. 'Destination parking spaces' (I made that up) can become a transport/mobility hub. It's not ideal to drive into a city, I agree, but if I have to drive some of the way then perhaps this hub can integrate with other forms of public transport ('integrated transportation' — a growing trend in Europe). So, you could plan your route and your parking space with direct access into the centre of town by the nearest tube or bus stop, instead of driving to a car park or congested street that is further than necessary because there are no other options. (Note that you can currently search on ParkatmyHouse.com for a space with 'near underground' as a preference. Perhaps they should have route planning on the site too, so you really can plan a clever integrated journey into central London/other from the burbs).
I was also thinking how this service could enable ride sharing into the city. So, how might it connect drivers and passengers together using the 'hub' (the parking spot) as a meeting point for sharing their car journey the rest of the way?
These spaces aren't just for cars; they can be for motorbikes, mopeds or even bicycles. Lack of proper bike storage in London is one of the key barriers to cycling for many. Wouldn't it be great to be able to store your bicycle too at one of hundreds of garages/backyards around the city, for a small fee.
And of course with Zipcar in partnership with ParkatmyHouse there are really some enabling green benefits. For a car service like Zipcar to be most effective it needs to be very accessible to groups of people. These parking spots make that possible. I'd love to see whole streets sharing a Zipcar because it's parked right there. And I wonder what else could be shared and made available in a parking space/garage in London? A hub for accessing a shared power drill maybe? A hub for trading old/unwanted goods?
Lots of service expansion possibilities with ParkatmyHouse as far as I can see. I like it. I'd like to suggest it's a signal of things to come in urban centres.
Written by Tamara Giltsoff.