As they expand from urban areas and college campuses, car-sharing services such as Zipcar, Hertz On Demand and Enterprise’s WeCar are evolving to form partnerships with city governments and the corporate world. But is car sharing for everyone?
These six car sharers, from professionals to university students, reveal their experiences on how they coordinate car sharing with other forms of transportation and deal with issues such as parking, availability and time management. Through it all, their views on car ownership have changed.
Reasons for Joining
Lisa King lives in Washington, D.C. and has been a Zipcar member for six years. Her car was 10 years old when she decided to join, and it needed extensive work. At the time, King had a job change and realized she didn’t need her car for work anymore since she was no longer going to be in sales. Meanwhile, Zipcar put in two vehicles at the Metro station next to her apartment. Then, her building began to charge for parking. “So I thought, ‘I could ditch my car completely,’” King says.
Photo by Victoria Sanchez
In 2009, California State University, Long Beach officials welcomed the launch of Zipcar on campus, which now includes six vehicles. From left to right: Chris Chavez, student government president from 2009-2010; Mary Stephens, VP, administration and finance; Elissa Thomas, alternate transportation coordinator; and Doug Robinson, VP, student services.
And she did, and hasn’t owned a vehicle since. “Now, I spend less on driving than I did on insurance alone, let alone maintenance and gas,” says King, who reserves a car one to two times a week. She mostly uses the service to go up to a local farm, or on days she’s at her office late or has something large to carry. Otherwise, King uses the city’s rail system to get to work. “If I didn’t live near public transportation or Zipcar, I guess I would have to buy another car,” she says. “But I really prefer being able to grab a car for what I need.”
Adam Rodriguez, a sophomore at Duke University and on-campus resident, is happy to have WeCar available since he’s never owned a car. Rodriguez tends to consolidate his trips, and uses WeCar at least once a month for about two to three hours.
In his first year on campus, Rodriguez often bummed rides from friends. “I liked the idea of being able to get stuff done on my own time,” he says. Ironically, Rodriguez now gives rides to friends who also don’t have a vehicle on campus.
Nichole Kimbell, a California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) student who also lives in on-campus housing, uses the Zipcar service a couple times a week to go grocery shopping or pick up friends from the airport. Previously, she was helping her sister pay for a new car, even though she rarely used it. “That was costly on my part,” she says. “But with a Zipcar, I am able to pay for how many hours that I actually need to drive.”
When Karen Hammerle moved to Hoboken, N.J., she tried to keep her car, but “it was a disaster,” she says. “It was impossible to find parking and I was getting ticketed, and then with the snow it was difficult, so I gave up on the car pretty quickly,” Hammerle says. She came across Hertz On Demand, which she now uses to supplement her public transit commute into New York City every day.