Since I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I had signed up with car2go, several people have asked me what I think of it and some have even suggested it would be a good subject for a blog post, so here you go.
A bit of background. I gave up my car on November 1 of last year. Over the winter I walked and took public transportation. This summer, I have put some 2,000 km on my bicycle. Only once during this time have I borrowed a friend’s car. I have taken a cab on only two occasions. I live in downtown Calgary so being at a central location is handy for all forms of transportation.
A month or so ago, the car2go people set up outside my favourite coffee shop. It is a company that has put, I believe, 250 Smart Cars (just like the one in my photo) on the streets of Calgary. Once you have registered with a credit card and valid driver’s license and you have been approved, you receive a swipe-card in the mail and you are good to go.
There is an app that allows you to see where the nearest car is – in fact it tells you how many metres it is from you and how much gas is in the tank. You are given the option to reserve the car for 15 minutes, allowing you time to reach it without someone else taking it. I found one just one street away from me this morning and set out on my maiden voyage. (Sans maiden, alas, but that’s another story.)
There’s a sensor located in the windshield. You swipe your card once approved, the doors magically open. Inside, you answer a few questions on the in-dash screen, such as, if the car is clean, and if there is any physical damage. My car was in fact pristine, inside and out. I took the key from its holder, put it in the ignition, fired ‘er up and I was on my way.
My trip today was to West Hills, which is a big box shopping area in the west end of Calgary. It’s not very well accessed by public transportation (although it soon will be when the new LRT line is completed) and it’s a tough bike ride, so this seemed like a reasonable destination. I was on the hunt for some winter footwear, which I have found before at The Shoe Company. Sure enough I was in luck today and I bought my Murrell winter mocs for about $40.00 less than I have seen them in stores downtown.
I believe that the car2go I used cost me about $10.00 for the trip – it is calculated at $.35 per minutes, with gas and parking in any Calgary Smart Park locations, including city parkades, included.
It took a little bit to get used to driving again, but I guess it’s like riding a bike, it soon comes back to you. I liked driving the Smart Car. It handles extremely well, as you would expect, and the visibility is the best I have ever seen, so to speak, in a vehicle. And let’s face it, there’s a certain freedom to be out cruising around on a sunny afternoon. All in all it was a wonderful experience, money well spent.
I ended my trip at Community Natural Foods on 10th Avenue, which is only a few blocks from my apartment. I could have kept the rental active, but of course one is aware of those 35 cents slipping by every minutes, and as it was a lovely autumn day, it was a nice day for a little walk after all.
I highly recommend car2go. I think it has the capacity to change the way many people view ownership of a car. When you factor in insurance, gas, parking and everything else, owning a vehicle is a very expensive venture. Car2go is extremely economical and convenient. All in all, for a person like me who knows how to get by without a car, but would still like to use one from time to time, it’s a wonderful idea.
Thanks for reading . . .