THE HERALD’S OPINION: GoGet’s arrival part of Newcastle’s modernising appeal

As we are reporting, Newcastle’s first eight GoGet vehicles will have their “home” parking spaces in the basements of two apartment blocks being built in Wickham.

The company hopes to have 15 to 20 cars on the streets of Newcastle by early next month, with the potential for 100 or so vehicles in the coming two to three years, if demand pans out as expected.

In partnering with developers, GoGet is making use of a strategy that has helped it expand from its beginnings in Sydney in 2003 with three vehicles and 12 founding members, to a fleet today of 3500 vehicles in five cities.

Newcastle City Council is working on a policy to accommodate car-sharing companies such as GoGet, and the company has has said it is negotiating with the council about access to on-street parking spaces.

If the City of Sydney is any guide, this will mean converting existing public parking spaces into car-share spaces dedicated to individual companies. The Sydney council’s web page says there are three car-sharing businesses within its boundaries, serving some 31,000 residential and business members from 700 dedicated parking spaces. Some of these are off-street in parking stations or building car-parks but the majority are on the street. The City of Sydney boasts the highest rate of car-free households in metropolitan Sydney – 35 per cent to a city-wide average of 12 per cent – but the loss of public car-parking spaces in areas with limited off-street parking has apparently proved less than universally popular.

Similar complaints are not hard to imagine in Newcastle, but if the council wants commercial car-share operators to help it reduce vehicle traffic in the CBD, then the parking spaces will need to be found.

More importantly, the arrival of GoGet should provide another service – in the same vein as the powered cycle provider Bykko – that visitors and residents alike will come to demand if Newcastle is serious about its claims to becoming a global city. Especially at a time when a younger generation of drivers is embracing the share economy to the point where owning a car is no longer the coming-of-age ritual it was.