Does Car2Go have a city-wide obligation?

Car2Go, the car-sharing program, is doing pretty well, if MPR reporter Curtis Gilbert’s story on the outfit is any indication. It’s now operating 500 vehicles in the city, 10 times that of any other service, he reports today.

So, here’s the question: What does Car2Go owe Minneapolis and what do Minneapolis city officials owe the people of the city who could be denied access to the transportation?

Star Tribune reporter Eric Roper reports today that the car-sharing service is about to cut the city’s north side out of the picture.

At a hearing today, Minneapolis City Council members said the company wants to scale back its service area, principally in areas where it’s now not getting the most business.

“I wouldn’t want to see us limit, for example, a company from operating in the city at all if they aren’t able to reach the entire city — at least unless how I had more information about how we could strike that balance,” Council member Lisa Bender said.

Bender represents Uptown, which is going to keep its service under the company’s reported plan.

Roper says Car2Go is doing the same thing in Portland, Austin, and Columbus, because cars sit in some neighborhoods much longer than in others.

When the cuts went into effect last week in Austin, people weren’t happy.

It was the same story in Portland, where readers on the company’s Facebook page noted the lower-income neighborhoods do without.

It’s a business and it has a right to make money. But the situation also raises the question of whether it’s also a public utility in its use and, if so, whether it has an obligation to provide service to an entire city.