As much as I complain about the TTC system being unreliable, I should really count my blessings. At least we have a somewhat comprehensive transit system. I grew up in the suburbs where the buses were few and far between, so everyone drives everywhere. Living in the city, I am able to get around relatively easily without owning a car. But sometimes you need to get to somewhere a little further. Or haul a bunch of equipment. Or get between a lot of places in a little time. My answer is the Zipcar.
Zipcar is a car sharing service. Parking in the city can be horrific, gas and insurance are expensive, and maintaining a vehicle is a huge responsibility. Still, I feel like an adult whenever I drive anywhere, and it sure makes my life easier. I’ve had a Zipcar membership for two years now; I’ve taken cars out of town for weekend shoots, or I’ve had an SUV for an hour just to get up to the Brickworks. It’s really flexible, and I don’t even need a garage.
Here’s the way it works:
1) Go to their website and fill in the application (drivers license number, address, etc.)
2) Once you’re accepted, you receive your zipcard, which works like a key. This takes about three days.
3) Go to the zipcar website to reserve a vehicle when you need one. This can bemonths in advance, or up to the minute.
4) There are a variety of vehicles all over the city, and each one has a home. Search by location (ie “The car closest to my house”) or you can search by vehicle type (ie “The pickup truck I need to get all of this junk out of my basement”).
5) Enter the time span you’ll need the vehicle and it’ll show you which cars are available.
6) When you show up for your reservation, you hold your zipcard next to an electric box on the windshield, and the car will magically unlock for you. Your membership includes insurance, and your rental fee includes gas! (There’s an Esso card with a pin number in each car; you just use it when you fill up).
7) When you’re done driving, you return the car to it’s home parking space, lock it up, and walk away.
[Bonus: There’s a Zipcar app for iphones that will let you unlock your car remotely.]
It may cost less than you think (especially when you add up how much you end up spending on taxis in a year). The costs are:
1) A one-time application fee of $30
2) An annual fee of $50
3) An hourly rental fee. This depends on the type of car you rent, and when you’ re renting it. (For example, a car costs less than a van, and a weekday is cheaper than a weekend.) Hourly rates are as low as $8.75, daily rates start at $77, including gas and 200km.
[Bonus: There are discounts if you refer a friend. And an extra value plan if you’re going to be driving a lot.]
Toronto also has a similar program called AutoShare, with comparable rates. I chose Zipcar because there are more vehicles closer to my house, but if you use a car sharing service I’m curious to know why you chose one over the other?
image source: John Menard