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The Rise of Car Sharing

With more people moving into the city and public transportation becoming more accessible, car sharing has become more widespread. Especially since the ease of getting around using subways, trains and buses has almost eliminated the need for a vehicle in the city.

Abandoning the expense of owning a car in the city is all well and good until the need to go visit Grandma in the country presents itself.

That’s where services like Zipcar, Car2Go, Hertz On Demand and Enterprise CarShare come in.

Image by Helmuth Ritzer
Image by Helmuth Ritzer via Flickr cc.

These services have made it possible for users to enjoy all the perks of owning a car without the headaches that present themselves when owning a car, especially in the city. The convenience to rent a vehicle by the hour and only pay for usage is also coupled with the convenience of being able to access the car at any time of day. Because of this, the popularity of car sharing is continuing to grow.  According to Navigant Research, “Car sharing services will surpass 12 million members worldwide by 2020.”

While car rental services that charge a daily rate have been around for quite some time, the idea of car sharing focuses on the short term (mostly by the hour). Car sharing has become so popular that companies such as Hertz and Enterprise rolled out car sharing services.

Haven’t heard of car sharing? Here is how it works:

First, pick which company to go with. Things to consider are location and proximity to your location. Doing your research will also help weigh options such as price, drop off locations and type of vehicle.

Next, you need to be prepared to sign up. The majority of these services require a membership obligation.  Zipcar specifically requires a membership, and you must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license. Zipcar will then run a driving record check on its members to make sure their cars are in good hands. After passing through the membership criteria, you choose a rate plan that best fits your needs. This will then trigger your membership card to be created and mailed out to you.

Image by NCinDC via Flickr cc.
Image by NCinDC via Flickr cc.

The membership card will serve as the key card to provide entry into the vehicle at the scheduled time requested. After you bring the car back to its specified loaction, the service will process the trip and charge you based on your membership fee plus gas and insurance.

While there are a lot of pros to car sharing and it is very convenient, there are also some cons to think about. If you are going on longer trips and use the car for long periods of time, car sharing might not be the best option for you. Another con is that while these services are convenient, they are also in high demand. Therefore, cars may not always be available when needed because of the increasing number of people that use these services. Finally, it takes a lot of planning to take full advantage of car sharing, especially if you are a first time user. Waiting for the membership card to come in the mail may take some time.

Not into the whole driving thing? There are also services for those who prefer to take a back seat and enjoy the view. If you prefer not to drive, mobile applications such as Uber and Lyft make getting around that much easier. The simplicity of requesting a vehicle to pick you up and drop you off at a specified location with payments made electronically can all be done through a mobile phone in seconds.

Lyft
Image by Simmone Henne via Flickr cc.

These services also have different vehicle types that fit your needs. For example if a group of friends are going downtown to catch a game and there is six of them, Uber and Lyft provide the option to request SUV’s and larger vehicles that accommodate bigger groups.

Whether you choose to do the driving yourself with services such as Zipcar and Car2Go or prefer to ride shotgun with Uber or Lyft drivers, the rise of car sharing and online car services are growing at an incredible rate.

Do you use any of the above car sharing services? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

 

 

 

Cover image by Montgomery Country Planning Commission via Flickr, Inc

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