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Transportation Nation

Why Enterprise Bought Ride Share Upstart Zimride

Monday, July 15, 2013

WNYC

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

Rental Cars Moved to New York Post Sandy -- But It's Not Enough

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cars stuck in Sandy's flood waters, in Oyster Bay, New York. (Photo CC by Flickr user CasualCapture)

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."

Car rental companies don't stockpile cars for disaster. That wouldn't make financial sense. An idle and unrented automobile on a company lot is losing money. So to adapt to spikes in demand, rental companies use sophisticated demand management systems that move cars from region to region.
Hertz said it is relocated "thousands" of cars to the New York City area in the days just following Sandy. Enterprise issued a detailed statement that said 12 thousand cars had been moved in from as far off as Colorado with another 5,000 on the way. An additional 10,000 new cars slated for other regions were being diverted to New York and New Jersey.
Philadelphia rental branches experienced shortages last week as business travelers turned to cars as a substitute for inconsistent rail service.

"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."

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Transportation Nation

NYC Pols Take on Rental Car Fees Based on Residence

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Residents in some parts of New York City pay an additional fee--as much as $55 a day--to rent a car in the tri-state area because of their home address. The fee, charged by Dollar/Thrifty Rental Car, is determined not by where the car is rented, but by where the driver lives.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and other New York State elected officials held an event Wednesday calling attention to this practice and demanding that the company end the fees. Stringer said in a statement "it’s time for Thrifty and Dollar ... to halt this unconscionable practice once and for all. There’s only one way to describe these outrageous extra fees--and that’s price gouging.”

New York City residents of Manhattan and Staten Island pay no extra fee. Residents of Brooklyn pay $55 a day in additional fees, Bronx residents pay $53 a day and Queens residents pay $11 a day in extra fees.

In his statement, Stringer noted that many other car companies used to charge similar fees. As recently as 2006, Stringer said Hertz charged $56 for Bronx residents, $34 for Brooklyn residents, $15 for Queens residents and $3 for Manhattan residents. In fact New York City passed a law in 1992 banning the practice of residency-based fees for rental cars that was successfully challenged in court by Hertz, so the law remains unenforced.

Car rental industry analysts say it's not unusual for private companies to vary their rates in any number of way.

Calls to Dollar and Thrifty, part of a single corporation, were not returned.

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