*Author's Note: AutoShare is now Enterprise CarShare*
In a city where the cost of parking is substantial, and it's more efficient to use public transit, it's no surprise the majority of urban denizens live life auto-free. But what is a young urban professional to do when the need for a vehicle is unavoidable? Enter a rising trend: car sharing.
Similar to the war that has been waging between food delivery services in Toronto, this city has also become a battleground for three car sharing services: ZipCar, AutoShare, and the new kid on the block, Car2Go. Luckily for customers, each of these three premiere services offers something a little different, and one can choose a service that is best tailored to the task at hand. However there is one perk of car sharing that resounds across all companies: it's great for our environment! In fact, it is estimated that in 10 U.S. cities, car sharers have already taken 500,000 cars off the road, which is an enormous relief for Mother Earth (AlixPartners Firm).
Let's start with the most recent addition to the market: Car2Go. I'm sure you've seen this newbie's fleet of smart cars flying around the city. Like AutoShare and ZipCar, Car2Go boasts a call centre, website and smartphone app, but its standout offerings are it's 'by-the-minute' payment matrix and it 'point-to-point' system. You register online ($35), grab a car anywhere, and after swiping the membership card and entering a few questions via touchscreen, you're off! Instead of being charged hourly, the cost for the use of a car is 41 cents per minute – perfect for short trips! And that rate includes gas, insurance, and parking fees. The other plus is on-way-trips; you don't have to return the car to same parking spot – simply find the closest designated Car2Go parking station. Drawbacks? Since customers can drop off the vehicles at any location, you're never sure where an available car might be, and can only make a reservation 30 minutes in advance. Additionally, customers who are looking for a diverse fleet, or perhaps a little more leg room, may want to look into AutoShare or ZipCar instead.
AutoShare is the city's oldest car sharing service, dating back to 1998, and a time before smartphones (*gasp*)! To use AutoShare, and their fleet of vehicles that includes eco-friendly electric options, you must register for a plan (Basic, Metro, or Metro Plus) for $29, and then pay a monthly or annual fee based on which plan you choose (i.e. $45 annually for Basic). Out of the three companies, AutoShare offers the best insurance policy, covering up to $2 million. Setting AutoShare apart, the company offers significantly reduce rates for non-peak hours (midnight-7am), so night-shift workers may find themselves only having to pay per kilometer instead of hourly. For many customers, registering for a plan is the last human interaction they have since the system is (for the most part) entirely automated. This convenience requires planning, however. The vehicle must be returned to the same parking location within the reservation time or else somebody who’s booked it after you might be left waiting and extra charges may be incurred.
ZipCar boasts a roster of vehicles that's similarly diverse to those offered by AutoShare, with the exception of a few luxury vehicles such as the Audi A3 and BMW 323, allowing you to look like a badass as you help your mom haul old boxes out of her garage. And, again, registering for a membership is easy peasy! ZipCar requires an online Occasional Driving Plan fee of $30 (or $55 for an annual membership), with approved members receiving their cards in the mail in one to three business days. (Members can also opt to pick up their cards at the Zipcar office at 147 Spadina.) Zipcar ranges from $9.35 to $15 per hour, depending on the car, but includes 150 km per 24-hour period (and 25¢ each subsequent kilometer). ZipCar is slightly more convenient than AutoShare when it comes to starting your trip; cars are unlocked by swiping your sleek membership card, instead of the AutoShare method, which requires you to retrieve keys from a lot lockbox. Additionally, while AutoShare provides an estimated quote for your trip after you reserve you car, ZipCar provides a quote even before you reserve, allowing you to choose a different type of car for a different quote. The reservation process itself – especially by web or app – couldn't be easier or quicker; cars are available 24/7 – just click “reserve” and the car is yours (reservations can be extended or modified just as easily).
Can you imagine having access to ZipCar directly across from your building? Wonder no more! There is a convenient ZipCar kitty corner to our brand new listing at 400 Wellington Street West, #710. Offered for sale at $678,800, Living Large On Wellington West In The Entertainment District represents a unique opportunity to be well-situated in the epicentre of the King West neighbourhood – just steps from the action!
~ steven and the urbaneer team
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