Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Rental car companies are driving in tens of thousands of extra vehicles to help avert a holiday shortage in the New York City region. But it's not enough to ease the post-Sandy crush during an already almost impossible time to find a car in the area.
Sandy destroyed or damaged between 100,000 and 250,00 cars, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association and one rental car company estimate provided to TN. At the same time, the storm closed, hampered, or damaged rental car branches and vehicles throughout the New York area. The final blow is transit: Sandy injected enough uncertainty into regional rail and bus service schedules that many would-be riders booked rental cars. All just in time for the biggest travel weekend of the year.
"Tight availability is typical of any holiday weekend," explained Paula Rivera, a spokesperson for Hertz. "For those who haven't made reservations, the availability is extremely tight at this point in time. So the probability of securing a car for travel over Thanksgiving weekend is slim," she said.
Travel websites had scant options Tuesday afternoon. Travelocity returned no available rental cars at all. Orbitz had 18 cars in total for all of New York City. Other sites delivered more results, at higher than average prices, and often suggested cargo or moving vans as the cheaper options.
"We're suggesting for people who have not made a reservation at this juncture to maybe look outside of New York City... where it might be a little bit better," Rivera said.
Enterprise, which owns several rental car companies, said some neighborhood branches remained closed because they just didn't have cars. “Although we are working hard to increase our local fleet as quickly as possible, there are still significant waiting lists in some communities where residents are requesting replacements for their damaged vehicles,” said Matt Darrah and executive vice president at Enterprise Holdings. "Despite our best efforts to be prepared, the magnitude of the storm has simply outstripped our resources and manpower in some locations."
"These rental fleets, whether it's Enterprise or Hertz or Budget, they only carry so many excess vehicles because every vehicle sitting on the lot is something that they are paying for," said Paul Eisenstein of the Detroit Bureau, an auto industry expert.
Rental car companies he said, "are not in business to keep vehicles around for an emergency ... They are not going to be keeping tens or hundreds of thousands of extra vehicles around in case there is a hurricane. That's just bad business."
TN MOVING STORIES: Senate Approves Pipeline Safety Bill, London Bus Stops All Have Real-Time Info, and Did The BlackBerry Outage Lower Traffic Crashes?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Top stories on TN:
The US DOT handed out nearly $1 billion in transit grants. (Link)
Rep. Mica on FAA shutdown: been there, done that, don't want to do it again. (Link)
Orbitz was fined for deceptive ad practices. (Link)
Last week's BlackBerry outage might be linked to a drop in traffic crashes. (Streetsblog)
The Senate approved a pipeline safety bill after a hold was dropped. (Los Angeles Times)
Could the Tappan Zee Bridge be High Lined? Probably not, but fun to imagine. (NY Times)
Electric cars are so popular with business travelers that Hertz is adding more to its fleet. (Marketplace)
How will Seattle replace its aging bridges? Not through a proposed $60 hike in car fees. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Real-time info is now available for every London bus stop. (Transit Wire)
A proposal to provide free transit service for San Francisco’s youth has some serious roadblocks -- namely a $13.2 million price tag and Clipper card incompatibility. (San Francisco Examiner)
NYC tries to coordinate street construction work via website. (NY Observer)
One plug to rule them all: automakers sign on to a single charging protocol. (Autopia)
Thursday, December 16, 2010
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The fledgling electric vehicle market got a little boost yesterday, when Hertz Connect began renting all-electric cars.
The rental car giant is starting small, with just five Smart Electric Drives in New York City. "That's all we could get our hands on right now," says Rich Broome, a Hertz Senior Vice President. But he says, the company is committed to ramping up to 1,000 electric vehicles nationally—including plug-in hybrids—by the end of 2011. Other cities slated to get the rental EVs are Washington, D.C., San Fransisco and select college campuses.
The move is good news for EVs, even if it isn't totally new. The first generation of electric cars, like the original electric Toyota Rav4, were available for rent at major rental car companies in the late 1990s before carmakers backtracked on production of the vehicles. Zipcar currently offers plug-in Toyota Priuses as part of a pilot program in partnership with the city of San Fransisco. Zipcar tells Transportation Nation they've been renting alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids since 2003, and they "welcome Hertz to the space." Zipcar does not offer an all-electric vehicle currently for rent to its members.