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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