I was having a conversation with Freedom 35 Blog a few weeks ago around my car sharing activities. While I’ve written about my choice not to own a car before, it was almost two years ago and I’ve since expanded my car sharing memberships so it’s a good time to revisit the subject.
After I graduated from University and got my first real job, I bought a car. I didn’t take out a car loan and bought a 7 year old car. I still paid $4000 and spent over $400 per month in insurance, gas and maintenance. While it was great that I paid cash and fit all of the expenses into my budget, it was still a large portion of my budget. Just because I felt that I could afford a car, doesn’t mean that I needed one. Evaluating my basic needs, I determined that the only activities in which a car would be useful were grocery shopping (twice a month), sporadic trips ‘off the grid’ of transit and the occasional ferrying of items acquired on craigslist.
I looked at the local transit options (very good in Vancouver), checked out a few of the car sharing options and decided that by trading in my car for a bus pass and a car co-op membership, I would be able to cut my monthly transportation costs down to under $250.
Car sharing works by having a large group of people pool their resources to share the cost of car ownership. By owning a number of cars and only paying for access when you need it, the cost of using a car is greatly reduced. Car sharing works best in an urban setting, so if you live in a rural area, you likely won’t have much success finding a local co-op or car sharing company.
Vancouver is rife with car sharing options – most of which can be found in other cities worldwide, most notably Car2Go (originally German) and Zipcar (gaining popularity across North America). In Vancouver, I belong to the Modo Car Co-op and Car2Go.
Each of the different organizations have different membership structures, usage rates and fees. Researching the differences and comparing the features between companies is helpful in determining the best use for each car share. In the table below, I’ve lined up the membership rates, booking fees and included features of the three major Vancouver car shares.
|Application Fee/Annual Rate||Cost per hour/per Km||Included Features||Other notes|
|Modo Car Co-op||$500 membership share (refundable), $25 application fee, $1 annual fee||$3/hr ($36 max daily) no hourly charge between 11pm and 7am.
||Rent and return to same location|
|Car2Go||$35 Registration Fee, $2 annual fee (donated to charity)||
||Rent and return anywhere within the ‘Home Area’ (large, defined area within Vancouver)|
|Zipcar||$25 application fee, $65 annual fee||
||Rent and return to same location|
Based on how each company is set up, one of the biggest differences is the fact that Modo and Zipcar require you to book and return the car to the same location, whereas Car2Go lets you make one way trips. Comparing between Modo and Zipcar, it’s easy to see that for an average trip, Modo is going to be quite a bit cheaper. As you drive Modo further, the costs increase, so it’s worth figuring out how far you’ll be driving on average. I don’t consider the $500 membership share to be a factor as you get it back if you leave the co-op.
As I mentioned, I don’t have a car. I therefore rely on a combination of public transit, car sharing, biking and walking to get around the city. Because Modo and Car2Go have different requirements for renting and returning, I have a membership with both. I use Modo 80% of the time for standard errands including groceries, transporting furniture and other large items and use Car2Go when we are heading home late at night and buses don’t run frequently. By using both in combination, I take advantages of the benefits of both.
Car sharing is an important part of my alternative transportation plan. Not only does it save money over the cost of owning a car, but it decreases my impact on the environment. In a city with good transportation infrastructure and a focus on sustainable living, I don’t see myself buying a car anytime soon.
What about you? Have you tried car sharing? Do you have any questions about the options available in Vancouver?