I had my first Zipcar experience last week, when I drove my parents back to Union Station after their visit. Car-sharing is really a slick situation, and aside from the two buses I had to take to reach the car (Zipcar restricts its fleets to UCLA and USC), the sharing worked smoothly.
The car was a Hybrid Honda Civic with a few dents, but otherwise clean and easy to use. I tapped my handy Zipcard to to windshield to open the car, and we were off. Easy. Zipcar has a rule that you have to fill the gas tank if it’s 1/4 or below, so after dropping off my parents, I pulled into the station and used Zipcar’s pre-paid gas car to fill up. Then, I drove back to UCLA, left the car where I found it, and hopped on the bus to get home.
At $9.25/hour, Zipcar isn’t the cheapest way to get a car for the day, but for those who are car-free (and don’t own our own car insurance policy), it’s actually comparable to car rentals. When I did the comparison, it came up pretty even– until I looked into the times I would be able to pick up and drop off the car. It turns out that, with regular car rentals, I’d have to rent the car for two full days just to get my parents to the train station for their 6:45pm departure. Zipcar it was.
The only beef I have about Zipcar is the lack of cars in LA. There used to be car-sharing options all over the city until Zipcar reduced its fleet. Still, it’s a decent option for every so often in a pinch.