Flexcar, City Carshare, Zipcar and the winter blues

After being here for nearly 14 years, I still can’t believe how wet it can get during wintertime in Northern California. It’s been raining for three days, plus two weekend days off and on, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end. And we have a motorcycle and a bicycle–no car.

Not to knock public transit, but that does take extra time. I’ve been careful not to plan too much stuff in my life such that taking an extra hour or two to get home and back causes strife, but, man I spend a lot of time on MUNI, BART, and just hoofing it. I’m enjoying being able to listen to music more, plus just seeing the sites I’ve missed out on by concentrating on driving. But now I’ve got an animal emergency that cannot be dealt with by two wheels or public transit.

Little Bear has been throwing up for the past two days and I’m not sure if she’s eating much because it’s mostly liquid that comes out. She’s lying around a lot and sleeping, very unlike her. Her sister bothers her, like usual, but instead of playing she lets out a moanful cry. So now we have to get her to the vet–what to do?

My wife got suddenly interested in Flexcar after seeing an ad for it in Berkeley the other day. I told her I’ve looked into these things before (last year) and car-sharing just isn’t cost effective, despite their urging. I mean, $0.44/mile and $35 application fee plus a $300 deposit is a lot, plus you have to fill it up when you’re done! I wasn’t convinced, until we agreed to look into it again a year later. I just thought, hey, $30/day is a rental–and no extra responsibility for milage, plus the rental agency is just two blocks away.

Nowadays, it’s looking a lot more financially sane to do the car share. And they are emulating the rental agencies. City Carshare is the non-profit one, and it’s deals and locations just aren’t as good for us, as we live pretty far out on the edge of SF, near Daly City. Bummer, I love non-profits. Then again, their prices are still pretty similar to last year’s schema. Zipcar is also an interesting choice, plus it has a better pay-plan (low montly fare, $50, plus cheaper fees), but no locations near our home. Flexcar, however, seems to be more expensive but they have locations near our home and near my work–bonus! They seem to have cleaned up the pricing structure ($9/hr, or $85/month for 10 hours/month) and have picked up the gas costs. The trouble? I just rented a car for an entire day for $30 from Enterprise! One thing that would beat out car rental agencies would be if I could drive the carshare car from one point to another, without having to return it to the “home” location. That would mean I could drive to work and drop the car off and be charged for a 1/2 hour there, then 1/2 hour back, but instead I’m being charged while the car is at work with me, so the rental is a better deal. On the other hand, if I need a car at work, I could just go over and take one of the carshare cars, then return to work when I’m done and that’s cheaper (as long as I’m not gone for more than 3 hours).

I’m still not sure I’m convinced, but having a quick, get-it, car which I can use for an hour or two would be great. But in a city, that time sure flies. Our visit to the vet would fit nicely into the Flexcar scheme, but we still need to sign up–or not?

2 thoughts on “Flexcar, City Carshare, Zipcar and the winter blues

  1. So far so good–we’ve used it a couple of times, mainly to go to Costco and take a trip on a rainy morning to the vet with our cats. It works smoothly with the online booking. I’d say it’s best to use it when there’s a “pod” of cars near your place–we just walk over to Daly City BART and bring it back to the same spot. Plus there’s a pod near SFFS, so it’s pretty helpful. We did, however, rent a car to take a trip up north to Mendocino, as that’s $30 for the whole day…Flexcar is really just another card in the deck of the car-less.

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