Sunday, March 23, 2014

car sharing

Personal cars are so last century. Ok, this one isn't about walking, so much.

Two years ago we sold our truck. It was part of the grand plan of living more lightly on the planet, simplifying our finances and becoming more flexible. Flexible, in that we can move around the coast without having to worry about moving, registering, insuring, and parking a car.

We walk for most of our errands. That has an added benefit of helping keep the shopping to a minimum. We don't go shopping for recreation. We have bikes if we need them for a longer trip or just to tool around. 

We take the bus or local train. Public transport gives us a great view of both new scenery and our neighbors. No driving to worry about, just relax and enjoy the ride.

We rent cars when we have to go medium distances. Recently, we got a call from our daughter that she was on a business trip about 100 miles away from where we were camped out. Called our buddies at Enterprise (we like them because they come pick us up) and we were there to have dinner with her that evening. Simple, flexible.

We fly when when we need to go cross country to visit family. Yeah, I know how bad that is for the environment, but you can't beat the convenience. My favorite is Southwest, when we're in one of their hubs. I like the open seating and the humor they add to the travel experience.

But what I really wanted to talk about is the new thing I just tried, car2go. I like the idea behind car sharing. It's an industry sector I've been watching for awhile to see if it would take off. When we got to Miami, I noticed the cute blue and white Smart cars around while I was out walking. I checked out the website and read the rules and reviews. It is SO easy. 

Once you have your membership card ($35 and a week's wait), you walk up to a car (found on your convenient smart phone app), place your card against the window reader. The door unlocks and you get in. Walk through a few questions about the condition of the car and you are on your way. When you are finished, you leave the car in an approved parking location, get out, swipe your card on the reader and walk away. Parking rules are published for each city. In Miami, it's any street spot or municipal lot.

The cars are only in a few US cities so far, so we will only be able to use it in on the east coast in Miami and DC, and on our vacation to Portland OR this summer. Hopefully, it will become more popular. It's not cheap, but it could be very useful for a specific kind of trip that public transport might not fit. 

We tried car2go on a recent errand, just to get a feel for it. We could have taken the bus, but I wanted to try this. Really easy and fun. Nice to know we have another option in the simple, green and flexible transportation choices. And, since it's been almost a year since I borrowed my sister's car, it was good to practice driving again.

This was the foldable info packet that my membership card came in.