What’s cheaper than sharing one car? It’s having no car at all!
We went completely carless for 3 months when our BMW Z3 broke down last year. We decided to go carless while we took our time shopping for a vehicle. We live in the city and we have great public transportation and besides, I was already a Zipcar member at the time.
Zipcar is a car sharing company. You’ll have to join before you can drive a Zipcar.
- Join. It costs $60 per year to be a Zipcar member. We went to one of Portland’s many festivals in 2009 and Zipcar was giving a 50% discount to join ($25 at the time.) We also won a free day in a Mini Convertible from their prize spinning wheel!
- Reserve. You can reserve a Zipcar on the internet. You figure out how long you need the car for and check the map for a Zipcar near you.
- Unlock and drive. Your membership card unlocks the car and then you just drive to do your errands. If the car is low on gas, you are suppose to fill it up with a gas card provided inside the car.
The hourly price ranges from $7.75 to $14 per hour depending on the year, make, and model. There are quite a few different cars available in my neighborhood. They have vans, trucks, coupes, sedans, wagons, and convertibles. There is even a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid available. We rented a Toyota Tacoma to move a queen bed once and it worked out very well. There is a special overnight rate of $36 on the weekdays and I used that when we needed to move furniture.
The problem with Zipcar is you have to really watch the clock when you run your errands. We have a Safeway nearby, but sometimes we go out to Winco and Petco to stock up. We reserve for two hours and it’s always pretty tight. I returned a car a few minutes late once and got charged for another hour. It is also quite expensive to rent the Zipcar for the whole day. A day of Zipcar starts at $71 and that’s why we didn’t take any longer-distance day trips during our carless period.
All in all, we really like Zipcar. It is much less expensive than owning a car if you only drive occasionally. We used public transportation on weekdays and Zipcar occasionally. This strategy worked out quite well. We can walk to many places so that helped quite a bit. We still decided to get a vehicle because we were expecting a baby. I also work 15 miles away and occasionally need to drive if I work late.
This concludes my car week. Hope you enjoyed my car stories. Do you have Zipcar in your city? Would you consider giving up your vehicle if there are public transport and car sharing options nearby?