Posted by: jdavis | March 5, 2008


‘If you live in a city,
you don’t need to own a car.’

William Clay Ford Jr., Chairman,
Ford Motor Company

With the cars becoming a status-symbol of wealth and success, a lot of people are investing in their own car, with some having more than one. But, is it really helping us to have our own cars? Or have more than one and let it just sit in the garage, for you to visit every now and then? When you just need to drive to and fro your office, does it justify the need for another car that will contribute to pollution and the congested traffic?

Car sharing is a program that has been practiced in many European countries. In the US, it is better known as car pooling. It is the shared use of a car by the driver and one or more passengers, usually for commuting. This is most of the time done by parents in some schools when children have the same schedule of sport practices.

Car sharing formally is a type of car rental, where people rent cars for a period of time, often by the hour. It is not a substitute for public transport but rather it is a complement to scheduled transport services. It is also different from traditional car rentals in the following ways:

  • It is “always-on” personality mobility service
  • Vehicles can be rented by the day or by the hour, whichever is preferred.
  • The reservation, pick-up and return is self-service.
  • User has undergone background check before becoming members.
  • Users are pre-approved to drive and the payment mechanism has been established.
  • Vehicle locations are well distributed through-out the service area and accessible to public transport.
  • The rates include the insurance and fuel costs.

What then are the benefits of car sharing?

  • It improves air quality because each car shared replaces about 4-8 privately held cars, so you can expect less emissions and most of the vehicles used are fuel-efficient cars like hybrids.
  • It reduces traffic congestion as it decreases the total number of cars on the roads. And that means less traffic, less pollution, and less dependence on oil for all of us.
  • It is convenient because you can use the car that is suited for your current needs. Carsharing gives you 24 hour a day access to a network of late model, reliable cars and trucks for your transportation needs.
  • It is cheaper – you only pay for the hours that you drive which is a fraction of owning a car and maintaining it.
  • Hassle-free – You’ll never have to worry about car payments, insurance, or repairs.

Car sharing works this way:

  • Find the car you want at the location that’s right for you.
  • Reserve by phone or online. Some services require a minimum of 1 hr advance reservation while some do not. It would be best to research the individual websites for details on this.
  • Pick up the car you reserved and go (gas and insurance are included).
  • Using the personal card or key, you can unlock the car.
  • Drive towards your destination.
  • Return to a specified car share location before your time expires. Returning the car on time is very important because there is a charge for late returns and if you often do this, the service might take out your membership.
  • Out of respect to the next user, leave the car as clean as when you got it.

However, there are also some considerations or reasons why car sharing might not be good for you:

  • If you have to drive everyday.
  • If you take long trips with your car.
  • If you must drive a car for more than 10,000 miles per year.

It is best that the websites be able to share with you how they work. Here are some links where you can avail the car sharing services:

Share Zipcars in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC. There are Zipcars for universities, too.
VISION: Providing reliable and convenient access to on-demand transportation, complementing other means of mobility.

Seattle and Washington Colleges, Portland and Oregon Colleges, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington DC, Maryland and Maryland Colleges, Columbus, Chicago, Philly and Pittsburgh, Rochester, Williamston, Virginia and Virginia Colleges, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Georgia Colleges, Gainesville, Phoenix ,

Zipcars and Flexcars have merged.

City CarShare
Cars are standing by in Noe Valley, North Beach, and East Bay.

Boulder Car Share
Boulder, Colorado

Chicago area


Philly CarsShare
70 locations in Center City and hundreds throughout Philly
VISION: A Philadelphia region in which nonprofit car sharing exceeds the convenience, affordability, and flexibility of car ownership.

Austin CarShare
Austin area
Austin CarShare is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the public about carsharing and the costs of car ownership while helping to improve our community by reducing traffic, improving air quality, promoting sustainable economic development, increasing the number of transportation options, and improving the quality of life in Austin by providing access to vehicles without the cost of ownership.

Community Car
Madison, Wisconsin
The easiest and most effective step we can take to improve our environment is to simply drive less. Community Car can help you have greater freedom from your car.



  1. […] Made Easy, Safe and Secure Last month I blogged about car sharing where two or more people share the use of a car usually for commuting. For […]

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