We try it!

We Try It: Car Sharing

Inner city living is hard. There’s no room for parking, rent is expensive, buses are crowded, and everything seems far when you only travel by foot. For a long time, my boyfriend and I endured stares while we stuffed our 90 liter backpacks during our weekly shop with groceries for the bus ride home. It wasn’t until Costco came to Sydney that we finally broke down and started looking for alternative modes of transportation.

What we found was Go-Get, a car share service scattered all across Sydney. The way it works is we paid a deposit ($500) and then selected our car share plan: goFrequent ($29 a month, $5.65 an hour), goOccasional ($9 a month, $8.45 an hour), or goStarter ($0 a month, $13.55 an hour). This allows us to use any car in the city at anytime by simply reserving it in advance online. Cars are also free between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. which are admittedly, inconvenient hours but if you needed a car at that hour to pick up someone from the airport or buy a late night snack, it’s not too bad!

A map showing the locations of several hundered cars.
Look at how many cars there are!

Some of the great features of Go-Get include designated and reserved parking spaces on the street so you never have to fight for parking, free gas, no insurance costs, no upkeep or maintenance costs, and lots of cars right in my neighborhood for me to choose from. There are even pet designated cars so if you need to take Fido to the vet you can and if you’re deathly allergic to cat hair, you can be sure that your car will be pet-free!

But the benefits go beyond that–you also don’t need any keys! One of the great features of the Go-Get car sharing program is that the keys are already in the car along with the gas card and all you need is a touch card to get in. This has been really useful to us because the car fits nicely in your wallet and if you’re out and decide you need a car, you don’t have to go home for the keys. It’s easy to pick up your car with Go-Get.

There are also a huge variety of cars to choose from including compacts, station wagons (admittedly, my favorite), Mini Coopers, electric cars, a few hybrid Priuses, church-sized vans, pickup trucks, and mini vans. There are even a few sports cars so you can pick up your date in style! Most people can’t afford to have numerous cars to fit their numerous needs which is why car sharing is so great–you don’t have to worry about borrowing your friend’s truck or if the store does delivery! Instead you can pick out a new car everyday to fit your needs!

If you aren’t convinced yet, consider these other advantages to carsharing:

  • It’s estimated that each share car removed 7-9 cars from the road, meaning less road congestion and more parking.
  • The average driver spends nearly $700 a month on car payments, insurance, gas and maintence, but when you car share, you spend about $100 a month–that’s a savings of $600 a month or more than $7,000 a year!
  • Car sharing takes the hassle out of owning a car–no insurance costs, no loss of car due to break-downs, no up-keep or oil changes, you don’t have to pay for registration, and you always have a new car to drive!
Two GoGet cars parked together.
It seems the more I get around the more I realize lots of people are carsharing these days!

My boyfriend and I have found numerous uses for car sharing. Of course Costco was a big one (it’s hard to fit lots of bulk food into backpacks!) but we’ve also used it for trips to Ikea, house hunting, and running errands all over the city. If we want to take a trip out of the city, we can reserve the car for the full day at about the same price as one from Avis or Budget rentals but without the cost of gas.

For us, car sharing has been a great way to save money, save time, and do something good for the planet by removing another car from the road. In my opinion, car sharing is the best option for inner-city dwellers. Even if you own a car, you still might want to consider car sharing for your business or even renting out your car with RelayRides–you could make your car earn you some money! The opportunities are endless!

By Thelma

Thelma is a photographer and traveler currently residing in Sydney, Australia. In her free time she can be found with her nose behind a camera or obsessing over koalas.

8 replies on “We Try It: Car Sharing”

Zipcar is one US service (though I’m sure there are many more) with car share programs in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, LA, New York/New Jersey, Philly, Pittsburg, Portland, Providence, San Fran, Seattle, and DC. City Car Share is a program specifically in San Fran and E-go is specifically in Denver and Boulder. I think there are a lot of options out there but you’ll find more in inner city suburbs. I think that as a rule of thumb, the denser the population, the more options. But the link I shared for RelayRides is also quite interesting–it’s a program where you basically rent your car out to other people. Apparently some people make good money off of it… I’m not sure how I would feel about it but I think it goes to show the creativity being employed in car sharing options these days.

As much as I like this idea, it would never work for me. At all. There is little to no public transit in the suburbs where I live and work and so I have to commute by car to my job. (too far to bike it). Needing a car for at least nine hours a day would kill any savings over my car payment and insurance. Still it seems like a great idea for areas that have reasonable public transit, but where supplemental transportation might be needed.

Commuting wouldn’t be a good use of it but using it for errands would. I agree that it works best as a supplement to public transport. Another good way to use it though is for companies. Instead of a company car, employees could check out a share car for a site visit at less than half the cost of a taxi. It could save businesses a lot of money.

I would say we only use it about once a month or once every other month to pick up big things but I think it still saves us money over renting a car or paying for delivery from Ikea. The deposit was a big hit to our wallets but otherwise, $8 a month for the convenience of a share car has been worth it.

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