Arlington, VA

After quietly launching in October, car-sharing service Penske Dash is quietly closing down in Arlington and D.C.

In an email to customers, the company said the coronavirus outbreak has affects its ability to serve its customers. It will be ceasing local operations effective Friday, April 10.

The full email is below.

As you all know, we are living through an unprecedented time in history. The ripple effects of the current situation extend far and wide and have affected many businesses’ ability to serve and support their customers. Unfortunately, Penske Dash is no exception. It is with great regret that we must cease our operations in Washington DC and Arlington, including the cancellation of your membership. Our last day of service will be Friday, April 10, 2020.

Please know, this was not an easy decision for us to make, and we apologize for any inconvenience we may cause by ceasing our operations.

Please note the following information regarding your membership:

  • Vehicles are available to rent through April 10, 2020, but all rentals must end inside the Dash Zone by 11:59 pm EST on April 10, 2020.
  • Fewer cars will be available for rent during the next two weeks.
  • Your member account will remain active through April 10, 2020.

We want to express our gratitude to our many members for your loyalty; it is a privilege to have served you. Our thanks also extend to the District Department of Transportation and Arlington County for their collaboration and support since our launch.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our member support team at 833-9-GO-DASH (833-946-3274) or email us at [email protected]

Again, thank you for being a member of Penske Dash, and we wish you safe journeys in the future.

Sincerely,
The Penske Dash Team

Hat tip to Patricia H.

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Morning Notes

Beyer on Impeachment Vote — “Voting for these articles of impeachment is the only moral course of action, the only way to honor our oath of office. I have no doubt that the votes I cast today will stand the test of time.” [Press Release]

Car2go Bye Bye — “Share Now, the German company that manages the car rental company until recently known as Car2Go, has announced it will exit the North American market effective February 29, 2020… There are currently 150,694 users in D.C., according to a company official who isn’t authorized to speak on the record.” [DCist, Share Now]

Volunteers Read to Babies in NICU — “Studies show private neonatal intensive care unit rooms can be too quiet, with premature babies not getting enough sound and stimulation, so Virginia Hospital Center uses trained volunteers to read popular children’s books to its tiniest patients when their parents can’t be there.” [NBC 4]

Free Lyft Rides Starting TomorrowUpdated at 9 a.m. — “A regional nonprofit is again planning to offer free rides through Lyft to help keep drunk drivers off Alexandria streets during the holidays. Starting on Dec. 20, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) will offer its annual Holiday SoberRide program nightly from 10 p.m.-4 a.m., until Jan. 1.” [ALXnow]

Water Main Break in Bluemont — Updated at 9 a.m. — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews working on a leaking 6-inch valve at 5650 4th St N. Some 100 water customers could be affected. Traffic is diverted around the work site. Estimated time of completion: no later than 7pm.” [Twitter]

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A new car-sharing company for quick trips or all-day rentals has quietly rolled out vehicles in Arlington and D.C.

The sedan ARLnow spotted in the Bluemont neighborhood was discreet, with a sticker reading “dash” on the driver’s side door. It is part of the “Penske Dash” car-sharing venture recently launched by Michigan automotive services company Penske Corp.

However, the service’s debut is “awkward” timing considering Car2Go has been cutting service, and General Motors, Lime and BMW have also pulled out from their car-sharing programs, as TechCrunch reported.

The former CEO of Car2Go, Paul Delong, is leading local operations for Dash, per TechCrunch.

Dash’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Montri told ARLnow today (Thursday) that the company was choosing to invest anyway because Penske’s focus on slow growth for the program, experience in automotive, and partnership with Colonial Parking would help it succeed where others had failed.

“As the automobile industry undergoes rapid change, alternative transportation models are becoming more common place, particularly in densely populated urban areas,” he said. “Mobility as a Service (MaaS) provides a hassle-free and environmentally friendly alternative to private car ownership.”

Montri added that Arlington and D.C. were “great” spots to pilot Dash because “residents of these communities have shown an interest in, and comfort with, new mobility models,” and the local governments were willing to work with companies offering new transit programs.

Penske joins French company Groupe PSA, which also launched its own car-sharing program “Free2Move” in the D.C. area in June. Groupe PSA’s program now operates around 600 vehicles in D.C. and Arlington, according to industry news site Automotive News.

Montri did not answer how many Dash cars Penske planned to roll out in the county when asked by ARLnow.

Dash works in a similar way to competitors like Free2Move and Car2go: users download an app to create an account, locate an available Volkswagen Jetta, and unlock it with the app to get behind the wheel.

Users can then “return” the cars by parking anywhere it is street legal in Arlington or D.C. However, the service’s warns people to avoid underground garages where apps can struggle for signal.

Dash credits up to $25 to fuel up the cars, but users pay the rest, along with a 45 cent charge per minute spent driving the car. The difference between Dash and its competitors, Montri said, was better vehicle upkeep and customer service.

Montri’s full statement about Dash is below.

As the automobile industry undergoes rapid change, alternative transportation models are becoming more common place, particularly in densely populated urban areas. Mobility as a Service (Maas) provides a hassle-free and environmentally friendly alternative to private car ownership. 

Penske has a legacy in transportation solutions, spanning automobiles, services and trucks. We bring our expertise to the marketplace, and alongside our partners, Penske Dash offers best-in-class quality and operational excellence.

Our entry into any market will be methodical as we grow in partnership with local communities, pursuing customer satisfaction and repeat business as primary metrics rather than number of users or vehicles. Additionally, both the A-to-B and rent-by-minute models provide added flexibility for those who may not wish to return their rental to the same starting point, or return, by a specific time.

In Washington DC, Penske Dash’s partnership with Colonial Parking gives members a guaranteed free parking solution in dense, city center areas so they can avoid struggling to find street space.

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Only minor injuries were reported after a rollover crash in Ballston Friday morning.

The crash happened around 6:30 a.m. at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive. Photos from the scene show a small Car2Go vehicle on its side in the middle of the intersection, with airbags deployed.

Several lanes were closed during the crash response and cleanup.

Photo via @ArlingtonVaFD

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(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Car rental company car2go is reducing its Arlington service area.

The northernmost six square miles of the county will not longer be serviced by the company as of May 1, according to an email the company sent to customers.

Car2go users will still be able to drive in that area, but won’t be able to begin or end a trip in the uncovered zone. According to Kendell Kelton, car2go’s North America communications manager, the removed area begins just north of Lee Highway and Interstate 66.

The section of the county that is losing service, the company wrote, is “a mostly suburban area with high car ownership rates and low free-float carshare usage.”

Car2go notified customers Thursday morning, saying that the change was, in part, “due to member and resident feedback,” but also from the company’s data analytics. Car2go representatives declined to comment on the exact figures.

“It should be noted that car2go continually analyzes usage data and member feedback and makes adjustments to our Home Area boundaries on that basis,” said Kendell Kelton, a car2go spokesperson. “If we ever see that this information indicates that expansion back into this area is warranted, we would certainly consider doing so.”

Staff at car2go wrote in the email to consumers that the company believes the service change “will allow [them] to improve car2go availability for the majority of county residents who rely on our service the most.”

The car rental company came to Arlington back in 2015 and experienced a surge in ridership in 2016.

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Morning Notes

"Safe space" sign on house in Penrose

New LED Crossing Guard Signs — VDOT is giving Arlington County a $880 grant that will allow it to purchase four new LED-illuminated paddle signs for crossing guards. The new signs will show “‘slow’ on one side and ‘stop’ on the other… when illuminated, they are visible up to one mile away.” The County Board is expected to accept the grant at its Saturday meeting. [Arlington County]

County Board to Make Car-Sharing Permanent — On Saturday the Arlington County Board is expected to vote to make car-sharing systems permanent in county code. Earlier this year the Board authorized trips between Arlington and D.C. for car-share provider Car2Go. The move has significantly boosted Car2Go’s usage in Arlington. [UrbanTurf]

Discovery Elementary’s Net Zero Goal — Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy recently toured Arlington’s new Discovery Elementary school. The school was built to be a Net Zero Energy building, meaning that it produces more energy than it uses. The school’s solar panel array cost $1.5 million but is expected to pay for itself in about 10 years. [WJLA]

Man Sentenced for Sneaking Into U.S., Again — A Guatemalan man who has a colorful history of sneaking into the U.S., being deported, and trying to come back again, has been sentenced to jail time. Juan Abel Belteton-Barrios, 46, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release. [Patch]

Why East Falls Church? — GGW has a primer on his history and geography of the various Northern Virginia locales with “Falls Church” in the name or postal address, including Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood. [Greater Greater Washington]

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New Car2Go model that's rolling out in the D.C. area (photo courtesy Car2Go)As Metro prepares for 45 days of major service disruptions on the Orange Line due to SafeTrack Surge No. 9, the carsharing service Car2Go says business is booming in Arlington.

SafeTrack, combined with the recently-added ability to travel between Arlington and D.C., has resulted in a “a 540 percent increase in the average number of trips beginning or ending in Arlington, a 22 percent jump in overall Car2Go trips in the region, and a 63 percent increase in average weekly memberships,” according to Car2Go.

“Car2Go membership in Arlington and D.C. has passed the 57,000 member mark, making it one of the largest in North America,” the company added.

That’s a reversal from earlier this year, when Car2Go said it was struggling to gain traction in Arlington.

Car2Go is rolling out upgraded versions of its cars in the area through the end of the year. The new cars are still the same Smart Fortwo model, but with faster unlocking, Bluetooth access for wireless calls and music, seat warmers, roomier interiors, a bigger trunk, improved safety features and a faster motor.

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Car2Go at the Village of Shirlington (courtesy photo)Arlington is no longer an island unto itself for Car2Go members.

The car-sharing service announced yesterday that it had received the go-ahead from the District Dept. of Transportation to allow one-way trips between Arlington and D.C. Starting Thursday, May 26, Car2Go members will be able to drive from Arlington and park in D.C., and vice versa.

The Arlington County Board approved cross-jurisdictional trips at its meeting last month. A county staff report noted that Car2Go was struggling to gain traction as an Arlington-only service, and had reduced the number of cars in the county from 95 to 25.

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Morning Notes

Tree looking up at a beautiful day (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Arcing Insulator Causes Metro Delays — An arcing insulator in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom caused some Metrorail delays this morning. Arlington County firefighters responded to the track fire, which occurred around 6 a.m. [WUSA 9]

New Bus Lanes Open in Crystal City — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Sunday for Arlington’s portion of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, the region’s first bus rapid transit system. The system’s 1.5 miles of bus-only lanes that run through Crystal City are now open and serving riders. Cars that use the lanes during rush hour face a $200 ticket. [WTOP]

Gutshall Out-Raises Garvey, Speaks at Board Meeting — Erik Gutshall, who’s challenging incumbent Libby Garvey for the Democratic Arlington County Board nomination, raised almost $52,000 during the most recent quarter, while Garvey raised about $34,600. Garvey still maintains a cash on hand advantage, however. Gutshall, meanwhile, spoke at Saturday’s County Board meeting and called for the Board to do more to oppose the gun store in Lyon Park. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Wardian Running Boston Marathon Today — Elite runner Michael Wardian is among the many Arlington residents competing in the Boston Marathon today. The 42-year-old, known for his prolific pace of race running, has been particularly prolific as of late — so much so that his international adventures recently prompted him to get his passport expanded. [Competitor]

Board Approves Car2Go, Google Proposals — The County Board on Saturday approved a proposal to allow the Car2Go car sharing program to operate seamlessly between Arlington and D.C. (approval is still needed from the District). The Board also voted to join Google’s Connected Citizens Program, which facilitates the sharing of traffic and road condition data. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Van Doren, Talento Endorsed By Education Association — The political action committee of the Arlington Education Association, which represents local teachers, has endorsed incumbent Nancy Van Doren and newcomer Tannia Talento in the race for the Democratic School Board endorsement. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Car2Go in RosslynThe Arlington County Board this weekend is set to consider a big change to Car2Go car sharing service in the county.

Car2Go launched in Arlington this past fall as a pilot program, but it only allows trips that start and end in Arlington. The Board is considering taking a first step to allowing cross-jurisdictional service between D.C. and Arlington.

After launching Oct. 22, Car2Go got off to slow start with customers, according to a county staff report. In response, Car2Go reduced its Arlington fleet from 95 cars to only 25 in January.

So far, 2,000 Arlington residents have joined as members, taking 6,600 trips, but the fleet reduction has resulted in “less availability overall and reduced usefulness to members,” said county staff.

The company has also had to contend with complaints about their cars being parked in one place for too long. In residential permit parking areas, the maximum idle time is 24 hours; it’s 36 hours everywhere else.

“Membership and vehicle use in the first couple months of the program was lower than anticipated and several complaints were received from residents reporting car2go vehicles that were idle/parked for longer-than-permitted durations,” said the staff report. “All of these relocation requests were resolved by car2go staff.”

With only 25 vehicles — up to 200 were authorized by the county — “the pilot does not indicate that an Arlington-only system is viable,” say county staff.

By allowing Car2Go to operate across state lines, it can “provide a more useful service to members in Arlington and D.C.,” “operate a fleet size sufficient for proper evaluation
of operational viability in Arlington” and “reduce vehicle idle times and rebalancing costs that have been a barrier thus far.”

Even though county staff says their D.C. counterparts support cross-jurisdictional service, approval by the County Board this weekend would not result in an immediate service change, Car2Go said.

“Approval from the Arlington County Board would be a very positive step toward cross-jurisdictional access, and we’re also working to gain support from DDOT,” said spokesman Brad Ducey. “As soon as we are able to get support from both jurisdictions, we would be able to implement quickly.”

“It has always been our goal to create a seamless regional carsharing solution, similar to what members of Capital Bikeshare experience,” Ducey added. “We know car2go members are eager for access between Washington D.C. and Arlington, and we’re continuing to work hard to make that a reality. We’ll be sure to keep our members informed since we know car2go is an important part of how they get around, and cross-jurisdictional access would make it even more convenient.”

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New Launch Date Set for Car2Go

car2go in Arlington (via car2go)A new launch date has been set for Car2Go service in Arlington.

The per-trip car rental service will launch on Thursday, Oct. 22, according to company spokesman Brad Ducey. It had previously been scheduled to launch last month, but that was delayed because of production delays with a new model of Car2Go vehicles.

Arlington was originally supposed to get 200 of Car2Go’s newest vehicles, but the service will instead launch here with its “classic” Smart Fortwo cars.

From a company press release:

car2go will launch in Arlington with its signature car2go smart fortwo vehicles, and plans to roll out updated technology in Arlington at a future date.

car2go offers a flexible and efficient mobility option for Arlington residents. With car2go’s unique oneway approach to carsharing, members can pick up a shared smart fortwo vehicle anywhere within the Arlington Home Area and end their trip anywhere within the Arlington Home Area, without the need to return the car to a specific station.

car2go trips cost just 41 cents a minute, plus a $1 Driver Protection Fee that limits the drivers’ liability in the event of an accident. Gas, insurance and maintenance are all included in this straightforward pricing.

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