Car-Sharing

2011.10.09-15.00.14My husband and I don’t own a car, and never have. We come from big cities, where public transport is very good, and now live in a small town, where you can reach everywhere you want (well, almost), by bike. So there never was the need. Occasionally we would rent a car, and if you don’t have all those extra costs for the car’s maintenance and gas, you become generous with calling a taxi.

Recently, however, I felt that I would like a car at my disposal, for the about three or four occasions a month when I really want one. So we have become members of a car-sharing pool. The pool maintains four cars in our town, one of which is stationed at a five-minute-walk distance from where we live. This car is a very small Kia, but it seats four and is big enough for our needs. As the pool is connected to others within Germany, Holland and Switzerland, we could get a car in many other towns after going there by train, if we wanted to. (We haven’t tried this yet.)

So far, car-sharing is great. With one exception, we have always been able to reserve the car when we wanted to. While it’s not a car I would like to drive on the motorway (the springs are not quite what they ought to be), it’s fine for the town and for shorter trips. I especically like to be independent at night, when there’s very few buses.

Rates are very reasonable. We pay $ 6 per month, and in addition there are fees for every hour ($ 2.50) or, alternatively, day ($ 25 for 24 hours), and for every kilometre ($ 0.28). This includes gas, insurance and all maintenance. So taking the car for getting to my book club, I pay about $ 13, which is great compared to the $ 22 I used to pay taking a bus and taxi.

On the other hand, if I just want to spend an evening in the town center, it’s still cheaper to get the bus there and a taxi back, instead of leaving the car in an underground garage for hours.

I know of nobody else who does car-sharing. Do you do it, or anyone else you know? What are your/their experiences?

- Rike Horstmann

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5 Responses to “Car-Sharing”

  1. Leigh says:

    While bike riding would be more healthy, most American have an close attachment to their cars. The only car sharing I have done was when I was sixteen, and begging my parents for their car. Since the age of 18 I have had my own car.

    Public transpiration is spotty in most smaller communities. In the larger cities I have used Atlanta ‘s MARTA and San Francisco’s BART and the New York subway but mostly as a tourist, not a daily rider. I lived in San Diego, but never used public transportation there. About a year ago, I used Greyhound. I drove a vehicle up to my brother, and then took the bus home. I liked it because I could just sit back and read, until we had a hour layover, waiting for a connecting bus. And out of practice I forgot to bring a sweater and froze.

    Where I live you can get a taxi, but it’s expensive. It not the way to go especially since our neighborhoods are not centered around shops.

  2. AARPat says:

    ZipCars are very popular in urban centers here in the U.S. Our daughter who lived in Washington DC for a while with her husband and their twins used them often to get the kids to well-baby appointments. She now lives in Rome, Italy, and her husband’s employer gives them a car allowance, so no more ZipCar.

    We see ZipCars all the time when we visit nearby San Francisco, so they’re still in existence. You rent them by the hour.

  3. Rike says:

    This sounds very much like what exists in the big cities here, like Munich.

  4. Leigh says:

    I looked up ZipCars and found that they are just in these areas:

    United States
    Atlanta
    New York/New Jersey
    ProvidenceBaltimore
    Philadelphia
    San Francisco
    Boston
    Pittsburgh
    Seattle
    Chicago
    Portland
    Washington DC

    Lots of towns not covered.

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