I finally got around to trying car-sharing, which is to say sampling the future. The CBC has a good overview of Vancouver services; I can’t imagine the pricing trade-offs being that different in other markets.
We signed up for Evo; it’s a little more expensive than the competition, but you get a 5-seat Prius with a roof rack; we’re a family with kids. They mostly got us with good marketing, though, offering decent starter deals through my employer and the Auto Association, from whom we already buy travel insurance and so on.
The experience · I’ve only used it once, driving from the office to where my bike was parked at the train station. I have to say, it’s pretty slick; the mobile app tells you where nearby cars are and then unlocks one for you when you get there, then you just drive away. A Prius, well, it’s not gonna make anyone’s heart beat faster, but it gets you there.
My trip made the economics pretty obvious: It cost me C$11.48, a little more than it should have because the parking-garage gate operators were changing shift, then I made a failed attempt to route around congestion. So that was 26 minutes, but at the height of rush hour; it’s hard to believe that I could have done it in under 20 minutes or about C$9.
Which is like three times the train fare, and the train would have got me there quicker, and I could have been using the Internet while in motion.
So I think the share-car is going to be a winner for errand-running and random point-to-points. But it sucks for commuting, you just can’t beat a big fat train running on a dedicated track underground. I’ll probably sign up for one of the cheaper teeny-car services too.
The future · So, what investment can I make now that will pay off when self-driving really arrives? Because the autonomous-share-car notion feels like a world-changer. They’ll park end-to-end in alleys and racks and come when called and take you wherever and you can be online in transit. At which point, driving your own car will be like shooting film or listening to music on vinyl.