The Explosion of Vehicle Sharing Options

I’m now a member of three car-sharing systems.

Not that I use any of them very often. We’re a one-car household, but generally I can arrange most of my must-use-an auto trips so that I can borrow my partner’s hybrid (and she is very clear it’s HERS).

But maybe a dozen times a year, I need a vehicle when hers is not available, and Zipcar (and before the merger, Flexcar) has been my go-to. In fact, I’ll use one today to schlep my stuff to demo our Transit Appliances at the Transportation Safety Summit this evening.

I’ve just joined two new systems, neither of which I have actually used yet:

  • Getaround – which offers the prospect of renting cars from your neighbors when they’re not using them (no cars very close to me yet, but we’ll see) and
  • Car2Go, which is unique in Portland in offering one way rentals. Just park the car in any legal on-street parking space within the service zone (downtown and East Portland out to about I-205) and you’re done. It’s reservationless, you hope you’ll find a car near where you are when you want one – the cars will be here later this month.

And PBOT is promising our bike-sharing system in 2013 (dependent on finding a private operator).

But there are more options on the horizon:

  1. Scoot Networks is piloting an electric scooter sharing system in San Francisco.
  2. And that’s not the only thing being tried in San Francisco, reportedly a car sharing company there is offering e-bikes as part of the rental fleet.

I really like that last idea – offer a wide range of vehicle types from bikes up to pickups and vans, from one common reservation system.

Where will it stop – what other vehicles might be shared? What other sharing models could work?

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4 responses to “The Explosion of Vehicle Sharing Options”

  1. >>what other vehicles might be shared? What other sharing models could work?

    Well, one possible vehicle sharing model could be to have larger vehicles, perhaps 40 feet in length, traveling at regular intervals along a fixed route. Such a system could be reservation-less, and would eliminate the problem of parking the vehicle after reaching your destination. I hear such systems have been successful in some cities, such as Portland, Oregon.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But seriously, why are we reinventing the wheel?

  2. Chris – You mention “a car sharing company…offering e-bikes as part of the rental fleet.”. It’s a great idea who’s time is overdue (here, especially).

    There’s (almost) no reason that can’t happen anywhere a public RFP process is involved. All the agency has to do is specify that if a membership “card” is involved that it must be compatible with the existing sharing service member card format. Even better if the carsharing company agreed to handle membership and billing for bikesharing services, but that might be a stretch for the existing company. In which case, keep it simple: the members as to sign up twice but can use one card to access both modes but gets 2 separate charges.

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