04/02/2013 05:20 EDT | Updated 06/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Montreal looks at city-wide car-sharing service

The City of Montreal is looking at creating a car-sharing program similar to its Bixi bike service.

The plan would allow participants to pick up one of hundreds of cars parked throughout the city, without a reservation.

Users would be able to locate the nearest car using a smartphone application and, once they were finished, drop the car off anywhere in the city.

Réal Ménard, who oversees Montreal’s transportation, said the cars would complement public transit, rather than compete with it.

"We believe there's a place for both,” he said.

He said the service would be useful for quick shopping trips, especially for people who plan to buy more than they can carry.

Gas, insurance and, in some cases, parking would all be included.

According to Ménard, the service would not be run by the city. Instead, he said they are looking at contracting it out.

Quebec-based Communauto, which already serves the Montreal area, as well as the German company Car2Go, have already expressed interest.

Last summer, Car2Go launched in Toronto with 200 cars.

Since then, the service has gained more than 10,000 members and doubled its number of cars.

In 2011, Communauto presented a plan to the city that would have 400 cars spread around locations in downtown. At the time, a company spokesperson estimated customers would pay $0.50 a minute, $14 an hour, with a maximum charge of $65 a day.

In Toronto, Car2Go charges a $35 membership fee, and about $13 an hour to use a car, with a maximum charge of just over $70 a day.

Ménard says public consultations will be held this spring, and if all goes well, the cars could be on city streets by the end of 2013.