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EV Car Share Network Increases Access to Clean Transportation in Minneapolis-Saint Paul

City of Saint Paul

St Paul, MN

Saint Paul increased shared mobility and reduced greenhouse gas emissions through an Evie electric vehicle car-share program to increase affordability and access to clean transportation options for residents in low-income communities and communities of color, and make car ownership less necessary.

Topics Covered

Fleet Management
Mobility & Access

Cost

Initial: 12.2 Million USD

Funding

Grants

Federal grants

Project Status

In Progress/Under Construction since 2022

Problem Addressed

Car ownership is unaffordable for many families, and the impact of vehicle emissions on human health and climate change are unsustainable.

Affordability and access to clean transportation options are not uniform across the Twin Cities, causing challenges for residents in getting to work, school and seeing family. These access gaps are largest for people of color and low-income households. The City of Saint Paul aimed to close these gaps in transportation access by introducing The EV Spot Network, a project that combines public EV charging stations and Evie, an electric vehicle car sharing program.

Previous EV charging maps show that the majority of public chargers only serve the city's downtown areas, the University of Minnesota, and select high-traffic corridors, leaving many neighborhoods underserved. Understanding these gaps, the city prioritized creating a linkage between the Twin Cities via car-sharing.

The city incorporated carbon reduction goals into the project by only using electric vehicles in the ride-share fleet. Therefore, the city also needed a plan to expand charging infrastructure beyond the existing areas.  

Solutions Used

Saint Paul implemented a city-owned, nonprofit-operated affordable electric vehicle carsharing program to improve access to clean transportation options and reduce emissions.

In order to achieve equity goals, the city used a community engagement model where they recruited and compensated residents within the affected communities to participate in focus groups. The city then used that information to shape the rate structure, process of signing up, and how to use the cars. The City of Saint Paul partnered with multiple community-based organizations to gain feedback as well as to ensure community buy-in. 

Together with HOURCAR, a nonprofit car-sharing organization, and the City of Minneapolis, and Xcel Energy, the city identified and implemented the EV Spot Network and Evie Carshare.  Evie is the first 100% renewably-powered, city-owned car-share in the U.S. The fleet includes over 100 vehicles and will soon include 70 public charging stations for residents and carshare users to access, with plans to add 70 vehicles soon. This car-sharing network offers membership plans to use Evie cars by the minute, or, or day, and provides the benefits of car access without the responsibility of ownership.

The funding for this project was multifaceted. In 2018, Saint Paul and HOURCAR applied for and received federal funding, through the Metropolitan Council's regional solicitation process, from the federal Congestion Air Mitigation and Quality (CMAQ) program to implement the project. Saint Paul was also participating in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge which provided the city with a full-time climate advisor to help deliver on their greenhouse gas emission reduction and equity goals.  In order to support the maintenance and expansion of the programs, the City has since budgeted to turn this role into a full-time position. 

The City is also a subgrantee on a U.S Department of Energy grant to fund both a portion of this project as well as a multifamily EV car-share pilot. This pilot features a shared car parked at a multifamily housing development complex that is not available to the public. With all these efforts combined, Saint Paul is able to ensure low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color accessibility to the network and affordable rates. 

Outcomes

1

Community engagement and focus groups with residents most affected by the lack of affordable and accessible transportation formed the city's implementation strategy.

2

Increased access to reliable car-sharing transportation for residents in the Twin Cities, especially for people living in low-income communities or communities of color.

3

Improved access to public charging, especially for people residing in apartments and condominiums outside the downtown areas and the University of Minnesota campus.

4

Half of the 70 charging hubs in the EV Spot Network are being installed in low-income communities and communities of color.

Lessons Learned

1

Partnering on a shared mobility network was a mutually-beneficial collaboration between the Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which have entirely separate local governing structures.

Something Unique

This is the first city-owned, 100% renewable powered electric vehicle carshare program in the United States.

Who Should Consider

Cities looking to expand shared mobility and access to ride-share transportation for residents in low-income communities or communities of color.

Government Project Team

  • Russ Stark, Chief Resilience Officer

Last Updated

Jul 12th, 2022
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