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A membership-based car sharing company.

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Car sharing.....an idea whose time has come!

  • Jun 13, 2011
I came across an extremely interesting article in today's Providence Journal about something called "car sharing".  It seems that a company called Zipcar, which already has 19 cars in the city of Providence is opening an office here in September and will be significantly expanding its operations in the city.  Zipcar currently operates 14 offices in North America in cities like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and Washington D.C.  The company boasts some 200,000 members in the United States, Europe and Canada.  Here in Rhode Island Zipcar has been proven to be enormously popular at Brown University where there are now 15 cars and some 15000 Brown-related members.  Clearly this is an idea that makes since for college students because on most campuses students outnumber parking spaces by three or four to one. 

According to the article "Boston-based Zipcar is a membership-based car-sharing company.  Application is made online for a $25 fee and annual membership is $50.  The cars are available 24/7 and can be reserved online for as man as four days.  Individual rates in Providence are $8.00 an hour and $66 a day on weekdays and $9 an hour and $72 a day on weekends."  But here is the great thing about Zipcarthe price includes gas, 180 miles per day, insurance and roadside assistance.  Furthermore, car-sharing is not limited by office hours as is the case with more traditional car rental companies.  Reservations are made online and pickup and return is all self-service.  The more I think about this the more I like the idea.  It seems to me that this concept would be very appealing to a number of demographic groups including those who reside in downtown areas, and retired folks who only need to have access to a vehicle occasionally.  Car-sharing also makes a great deal of sense for lower-income people who for one reason or another simply cannot afford to own a car.  Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of vehicles including BMWs, Volvos, MINI Coopers, Prius Hybrids, pickup trucks and more.  Meanwhile, there are obvious environmental advantages associated with car-sharing.   Car-sharing reduces harmful emissions, cuts down on the number of parking spaces needed and offers individuals access to vehicles without having to bear the full costs of auto ownership.  Sounds to me like a win-win situation for just about everyone!

Nick Thomas, a junior at UC Davis majoring in community and regional development, gets ready to rent a Zipcar on Tuesday afternoon at the E Street Plaza. He was bound for Sacramento. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

Although the idea of car-sharing is a relatively new one here in the United States it has been going on in Europe for nearly 25 years.  As costs continue to escalate car-sharing is likely to gain more and more traction here in the United States.  I suspect that there are many two-car households out there that would seriously consider shedding the second vehicle if a service like Zipcar was more widely available.  Owning and maintaining an automobile has become an extremely expensive proposition.  Car-sharing represents a viable alternative that increasing numbers of Americans are likely to embrace in the coming years.  Apparently investors agree.  Just a couple of months ago Zipcar Inc. went public. The IPO was a smash hit raising more than $174 million!  Perhaps Providence mayor Angel Taveras summed it up best when he said "Zipcar makes Providence a cleaner, greener city.  It makes it easier and affordable to get around the city."  Clearly, it appears that car-sharing is an idea whose time has come!  You can check out the company at www.zipcar.com     Very highly recommended! 
Car sharing.....an idea whose time has come! Car sharing.....an idea whose time has come! Car sharing.....an idea whose time has come! Car sharing.....an idea whose time has come!

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July 08, 2011
The idea is good assuming that the ridership is responsible.
June 16, 2011
Had you ever heard of this idea before?? I had not.
June 16, 2011
zip zip zip zip...LOL! nice one!
June 16, 2011
I wasn't at all aware that this service was now available anywhere in NA. Thank you so much for this comprehensive review.
June 16, 2011
Yeah! I had never even heard of the idea before. Thanks for reading!
June 15, 2011
Awesome review, Paul! I live in the 'burbs, so it makes more sense for me to own a car, but for my friends who live in San Francisco, they swear by car sharing services like Zipcar and if I lived in the city, I would, too! Beats paying for my own gas and insurance :P Great review, Paul! I agree with a lot of what you have to say about car sharing!
June 14, 2011
If I lived in the city I would so not have a car, this would be perfect! I've seen them around a lot here in the Boston area.
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Zipcar is a membership-based car sharing company providing automobile reservations to its members, billable by the hour or day. Zipcar was founded in 2000 by Cambridge, Massachusetts residents Antje Danielson and Robin Chase, and is now led by Scott Griffith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. As of December 2010, the company offers a fleet of over 8,000 vehicles in urban areas throughout 28 North American states and provinces, as well as in the United Kingdom, and has over 560,000 members which the company refers to as "Zipsters". Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day. Zipcar has major operations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Washington D.C. and Vancouver. The company also has presence on over 230 college campuses.
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