Friday, January 25, 2008

Won't be City CarShare (of S.F.)

I just spoke with Anita Daily at the not-for-profit City CarShare of the San Francisco area. She was friendly and helpful, including pointing out guides they've produced to starting your own car sharing program. The guides are in the last paragraph of They are doing well and expanding with a model that emphasizes low rates over making a profit. They believe in a community approach to car sharing and will not be expanding beyond their region.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nothing next week, but...

So far I've spoken with someone from U-Haul's U Car Share ( program and someone from the local corporate Enterprise office. Both are quite interested in the situation. Obviously, neither will be setting up a car sharing program in San Diego next week, but there is hope for the longer term. If you haven't already emailed with the info mentioned in this blog's original post, please do so. Demonstrating interest is key to getting a company to enter this market, and with enough interest we may end up with multiple suitors.

The Enterprise representative is exploring possibilities for a corporate account that could help us avoid buying cars while we await Flex/Zipcar's replacement. A good deal on a rental won't be enough to get everyone through this period, but combined with other transportation options it may be enough for many of us if there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll continue attempts to reach Avis and Hertz tomorrow. The comments that have been made regarding starting a car sharing program from scratch are appreciated, but I personally don't plan to take on that challenge. If you have the time, money, and dedication to lead such an effort, I'd be glad to add you to the list of potential car sharing programs; please send me an email.

Today, our family used a car from the downtown Enterprise in place of our eliminated Flexcar reservation. Though less convenient and more expensive than Flexcar, the experience demonstrated we don't need to rush out and buy a car. The walk was 15 minutes each way, much farther than Flexcar, but at least it was within walking distance. (They offer included pick-up and drop-off, but I'd rather not add to their costs and I'd like to be on good terms with the staff. In any case, it would be one more thing to coordinate.) The process of getting the car and returning the car was much longer than with Flexcar, but perhaps that will be less of an issue after becoming more familiar with the staff and process. The office closes at 6pm M-F, 3pm Sat, and 2pm Sun, after which cars can be returned near the airport until 11pm, so the time options for returning cars are limited or ruin the walkability aspect. The total cost, including gas (we bought 2 gallons), tax, damage waivers, and insurance was $64. That's $33 after tax for a day's intermediate rental through the website using a corporate account, $24 for waivers and insurance, and $7 at the Shell station down the street. Our Flexcar reservation, pro-rating the monthly fee, would have cost $21 total. From what I've seen on the web, a typical car sharing rate would have led to a cost of $45-$50 total. If we start using the rentals regularly, we might get a "named non-owner" insurance policy and decline the waivers and insurance. That would save $24 per day, but would cost $374 per 6 months and introduce a $500 deductible in the case of an accident. The staff was friendly. Overall, the cost was less than ideal but bearable for us and the inconvenience was the real stumbling block to having rentals be a long term solution for our family. I can imagine rentals getting us through the transition from Flexcar to the next car sharing program. For anyone dependent on the incredibly good Frequent Flexer pricing (that produces the $21 estimate mentioned above), both the cost and convenience would be serious issues.

Some of you must be trying out the alternatives. What are you finding?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Life after Flexcar

Now that Zipcar has announced an end to the Flexcar car sharing program in non-UCSD San Diego locations (see the UT article), we need an alternative. Enterprise has a downtown office, hourly rentals in other markets, and a car sharing program in St. Louis. There are rumors Hertz and Avis have an interest in car sharing. U-Haul provides car sharing in some markets. Let's produce a list of potential users and talk to the rental companies. To add your name to the interest list, please send an email to

Please include:
  • Where would you use car(s)? If you were using Flexcars, which did you use?
  • What type of cars did you/would you use most often?
  • If you used Flexcar, which billing plan were you using?
  • How many times per month and hours per use were you reserving cars on the above billing plan?
  • How many times per month and hours per use would you likely reserve cars at $10/hr with $60/day max, including insurance and gas? (I don't know if those rates are likely, but the question needs rates for context.)
  • What was your average monthly Flexcar bill?
If you can't include some of those or don't feel comfortable doing so, please still send an email. I'm expecting that the more information we have, the more success we'll have working with a rental car company.