Car Sharing

Transportation Nation

Report: Social Media Contributing to Decline in Car Ownership

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A new report by U.S PIRG is linking a decline in car ownership among young people to smart-phone enabled sharing services, like car sharing and bike sharing.  Young people are getting licenses later and later, and buying cars less and less often. 

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Transportation Nation

Why Enterprise Bought Ride Share Upstart Zimride

Monday, July 15, 2013


The rental car company Enterprise continues to expand into car and ride sharing through acquisition. This time, the industry giant picked up five year-old Zimride that helps people carpool on longer distance rides.

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Transportation Nation

Ride Sharing Creates Turmoil In Seattle

Monday, June 10, 2013

In the Seattle area, some cars are driving around with oversized, hot pink moustaches on their front grills. The prop signals an increase in ride sharing. But for some companies and cabbies, the pink moustache is a red flag.

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Transportation Nation

Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Is National as of Today

Monday, March 05, 2012

(Screen grab from RelayRides)

Until today, if you wanted to rent out your car for the hour, you had to do it on your own. Not so easy to create that market, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. But RelayRides, the first company to try peer-to-peer car sharing two years ago, has just become a national company as of this morning.

"For us, with our model, it does work for us to work in a rural area,” Shelby Clark CEO of RelayRides tells Transportation Nation.  His company's website is meant to match renters and car owners and create the fluid market needed to turn a parked car into a business. “I'm excited to see what happens when we move out to areas that do not have car sharing."

Right now, his company has 200 cars up for rent, used by 6,000 borrowers in Boston and San Francisco. Clark said that "thousands" of people from other areas have signed up on his website to rent or borrow even though the service was only offered in those two cities.

His peer-to-peer model is different from the Zipcar model because RelayRides doesn't own any cars. All it does is connect car owners with renters. That means that it can conceivably work in even very remote places bringing a transportation option to people who have no option but to own a car or hitch a ride even. It hasn't been tried yet, so there's no proof the idea will work outside of urban areas.

Peer-to-peer car sharing has been most popular where traditional car sharing thrives: close to transit and with wealthy people who choose not to have a car. In fact, Clark says, a college education is the biggest predictor of car share membership. “We haven't seen any strong trends so far in terms of where adoption will be strong outside of these traditional car share markets," Clark says, eager to find out.

The prospect of turning a car into a small business though, could drive more people to rent out their wheels.  Rentals prices are set by the owner at anything above $5 per hour and $25 per day. The average RelayRides car owner earns $250 a month.

There could be a snag with insurance. Most residential insurance doesn't cover commercial activity in your car. Renting it out, even to neighbors, is commercial. However, in the two years of experience so far, it doesn't seem that's how insurance companies are treating the practice. Nobody has been dropped, Clark says. Still, three states, California, Oregon and Washington, have all passed laws to explicitly make peer-to-peer car sharing legal.

Clark says aach shared car can take 14 cars off the road, or off the driveway anyway.

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Transportation Nation

Why Do Some Cities Get Car Shares and Others Not? The Answer...

Monday, January 30, 2012

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user davereid2)

Miami Beach has claimed the crown of first Florida city to launch a car sharing program. Hertz On Demand will begin operations there on January 24th. Four universities do already have campus-based car share in Florida. But none are city wide, and Florida is a big state. This raises the question, why has no other city in Florida gotten car share? Even Idaho already has several car share programs. So how do ZipCar, Hertz On Demand, Car2Go or any of the other car sharing startups pick between cities when plotting their exponential expansion?

According to the companies, mass transit is a big factor.

Paula Rivera of Hertz On Demand tells TN, "when entering new markets, Hertz on Demand likes to look at urban areas that have a well defined mass transit infrastructure." She also said that a car sharing company could go into any city, but in an ideal world they want to work in conjunction with the local government, and that can mean the difference when choosing one city over another.

For instance Hertz on Demand was keen to set up in Hoboken, New Jersey because of enthusiasm from the local government which made parking spaces available and facilitated increased visibility. But the company also launched across the river in New York City despite heavy competition. Zipcar already had a government partnership in New York, and their largest fleet of cars for a metro area. Add to that other car share companies targeting specific niches like the smaller Mint Cars on Demand, which courts the business community well. But Hertz ventured into NYC anyway because other conditions are ideal for car share: extensive mass transit, large numbers of non-car owners, and a high hassle factor and costs to car ownership.

In Miami Beach, car sharing will " integrate with other alternative modes of transportation such as transit and bicycle-sharing programs facilitating mobility throughout the city," according to the official announcement (PDF). Hertz On Demand won the right to operate out of municipal garages in a competitive bidding contract and will lease parking spaces at above market rates for private monthly users.

The company said they chose Miami Beach to make their first foray in Florida because of the city's enthusiasm for partnership.

Daimler's Car2Go similarly chose Austin because of a municipal plan to encourage government workers to switch from company cars to the shared electric fleet. It has since begun expanding the model elsewhere.

Boston and San Francisco each have several start-up car share companies testing new business models, in particular peer-to-peer options. Both of those cities are tech hubs and the founders of these companies live there.

Zipcar told Transportation Nation: "Zipcar typically targets large, densely populated markets with access to strong public transportation; and areas where it is hard to find parking and has high costs of car ownership." So, basically, where it's a pain to own a car with lots of people who already go without one. Universities are a major target for growth for the industry leader; Zipcar runs more than 250 campus programs, 36 of them added since Fall 2011 including several in Florida. The poetic spokeswoman added, "It’s also important to note that Zipcar pods grow in clusters, and they are spaced out like strings of pearls." There's never one lone Zipcar, they're always at least in pairs, and then grow from that.


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Transportation Nation

As Car Sharing Grows, Carmakers See an Opportunity

Saturday, October 15, 2011

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user moon_child)

Listen to an alternate version of this story from Marketplace:

New Yorkers are taking to car sharing. New York's two smaller car share companies report double and triple digit membership growth in the past year. Several companies have expanded into Harlem in recent months, and plan further offerings in New Jersey and the outer boroughs. Car sharing companies have traditionally focused on Manhattan below 96th Street and parts of Brooklyn closer to Manhattan.

Hertz's hourly rental offering, Hertz On Demand now has 30,000 members in the New York area, a three fold increase over last September, according to the company, which launched car sharing in December 2008.

Mint Cars-On-Demand, a local company targeting small businesses, reports growth has accelerated 50 percent over last year's pace. They have about 125 cars and 10,000 members with hourly rentals starting at $7 per hour.

New York is Zipcar's largest market with 2,100 cars in the area. The newly public company declined to share growth statistics by press time, though it has launched an extensive subway advertising campaign.

As the practice of renting out cars by the hour catches on in New York and nationwide, car makers are planning on new ways to capitalize on the trend. The reason, is younger drivers.

"They represent about 40 percent of car buyers and they drive a lot less than the generation that preceded them," says Carroll Lachnit of She says car makers need new ways to reach Millenials who are less likely to rush to the dealership on their 16th birthday, and after that, far less likely to become loyal to a brand for life. Lachnit says that first purchase comes later now, so car makers need to do more than just offer a test drive and a low interest loan. Car sharing can fill that void and be the first -- and second, third, fourth -- exposure to a vehicle for a young driver who is  a future driver.

That's one explanation for why Ford offered up thousands of cars to ZipCar for university car share programs. And why GM is using its OnStar technology to facilitate peer-to-peer car sharing through RelayRides. As we reported last week, GM also gets a cut of the rental profits, but more than that, GM's Bob Tiderington explained to TN, car sharing is like hassle free test drive. In many ways, it's better than a test drive. Drivers get more time in a car, can test a car out at night, and try out a single car over and over in different conditions over time before it comes time to make a decision.

The premise is that car sharers will grow up to be car owners.

That's assuming that car sharing is convenient, but for now, it's still a tiny fraction of drivers.

Nationwide there are about two dozen car sharing companies with more than 500,000 members in total, according to Susan Shaheen of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at U.C. Berkeley. She says it's way too soon to know if the car companies' plan will work. But some initial research does indicate that there is some brand loyalty developed.

For more on car sharing as the new test drive, including what one skeptical car dealer has to say about it, listen to this story on Marketplace Money.

Additional reporting for this article by Casey Miner.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Dynamic Pricing Comes To SF Parking and Amtrak Wants $ To Plan New Hudson River Tunnels

Monday, April 04, 2011

Cuts to the education budget led one Colorado school district to eliminate school buses; parents say more people are driving their kids to school -- and causing more traffic.  (NPR, Denver Post)

San Francisco is rolling out demand-based parking fees ranging from 25 cents to $6 an hour, depending on how many spaces are available. (Silicon Valley Mercury-News)

Is it time to reassess airplane maintenance? (The Takeaway)  Meanwhile, US airlines performed better last year -- but complaints were up 28%. (BusinessWeek)

A turkey visits the parking lot of Minnesota Public Radio. (Full-size picture here.)
Turkey! near the MPR building tonight in d'town St. Paul... on Twitpic

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill that reduces spending on Twin Cities bus and rail operations by $32 million over two years. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Electric car owners in Washington (state) may soon have to pay a $100 annual fee to make up for lost gas-tax revenue. (Seattle Times)

Amtrak applied for nearly $1.3 billion to start planning two new Hudson River tunnels, as well as an expanded in- New York City station -- and Governor Christie signed off on it. (

Peer-to-peer car sharing -- or 'l'auto se partage' -- comes to France. (Sustainable Cities Collective)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: New York has applied for more high speed rail funding. So has Amtrak. Short haul flights are on the decline. And: the Texas DOT says road projects need to be bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

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Transportation Nation

WEDNESDAY: Personal Car-Sharing on the Takeaway

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When you really think about it, you probably don't use your car all that much.  You drive to work – then leave your car in the lot all day while you’re inside. Or you leave town for a few days – then don’t use your car for the next three weeks. Meanwhile, plenty of other people don’t have cars, but sometimes need them.

Three new companies in the San Francisco Bay Area – Getaround, RelayRides, and Spride Share – are trying to match those idle cars with people who want to drive them. Each model is a little different, but the basic idea is the same: when you’re not using your car, you can rent it out to anyone who needs it. And if you need a car? You can rent anything from your neighbor's station wagon to a brand-new Tesla Roadster.

Transportation Nation's Casey Miner will be on The Takeaway this  morning to talk about personal car-sharing-- listen below! And catch her full story later that day on KALW News.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Gov't Moving from Company Cars to Company Carshare, Joins Washington, Philadelphia

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a hopeful pilot program Tuesday to reduce the amount of cars, traffic and pollution caused by municipal employees. Three-hundred City workers will carshare 25 vehicles, mostly housed in downtown Manhattan.

According to a press release, the program will start as a one-year pilot in partnership with the private company Zipcar, but the city is already projecting cost savings four years out at more than $500,000 in reduced fuel,  maintenance, and vehicle purchase costs.

There is solid precedent for that kind of thinking. Washington has a succesful program, as does Philadelphia. In fact, when Philadelphia started their program in 2004, the City was able to sell off 329 vehicles. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg ordered City agencies last year to reduce non-emergency, light-duty vehicles by 10 percent, resulting in the sale of 750 vehicles already, 50 additional cars will be sold as part of the pilot program announced Tuesday.

The New York City program will also use a computer reservation system and restrict the amount of cars available during rush hours to prevent the shared vehicles from being used for, or clogging commutes. After hours, most of the 23 hybrid cars and 2 mid-sized vans, will be open for public reservation.

When Austin launched a similar program with 200 cars in May 2009, initial demand was triple expectations. That program also offered a feature that let city workers check out cars for personal use with a pay-by-the-minute rate to remove the incentive to bring your own car for personal transport and running errands. Oh, and Austin used a fleet Smart cars, easier parking that way, cute too.

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