Car Sharing: Welcome to the future of vehicle ownership (or how to own one less vehicle)

Are you one of the more than 500,000 people in North America taking part in the care share revolution? If not, why? Car share companies have grown their membership over 20% in the last 5 years for good reason. Car sharing provides members with unprecedented freedom of movement and cost savings.

Why you want to car share.

Parking: Car share is great for getting to and around Downtown Austin. There are permanent parking spaces all over downtown for both Car2go and Zipcar. Always there when you need them, always free. In addition to the permanent car share spaces, you can park a Car2go at any metered spaced for free!

Cost: The average cost of owning a car is $9,000 per year and the average car owner uses their car only 8% of the time or 1 hour per day. That comes out to around $25 per hour to use your personal vehicle. Compare that to the cost of car sharing which is typically under $15 per hour (and as low as $6), you get to choose the type of car you want and you aren’t paying when you aren’t using the car, which is most of the time.

Health: Zipcar released a study that found that after 1 year, their members walked 21% more and biked 14% more. Imagine shedding a few pounds and getting in shape while getting around town.

What is it?

Car share is a way to have unlimited access to a vehicle without actually owning one. Under most car share systems, a public or private entity will own and operate a fleet of vehicles that they then rent out to individual consumers, their members. Members generally pay a fee to join and a per rental fee. There are several different ways car share operators do business, ensuring that one will fit your needs. In Austin, 3 different companies operate car sharing services: Zipcar, Car2go and Getaround. With so many Car Sharing options in Austin, choices are plentiful for what type of vehicle you want or need. If you have business clients in town, pick up a BMW. If you want to head to the Hill Country for an afternoon, grab a convertible Mini Cooper. If you just need to get across town, grab a SmartCar! With all of these cars at your disposal, why wouldn’t you consider getting rid of your car? Also, many car sharing companies (Car2go, Zipcar, Getaround) are available in other cities in the U.S. and around the world giving you access to vehicles even on vacation!

2 Car Sharing Models: Ensuring that you have an option for every occasion

Business to Customer (B2C): In the B2C model, a private company owns the fleet of vehicles and rents them to their individual members. Members pay a fee to join and for the time they use the vehicle. Gas, full coverage insurance and mileage are all included in each rental. Cars can be reserved online, via phone or your computer. Austin is fortunate to have 2 such companies operating in town, Zipcar and Car2go. Enterprise, the national rental car chain, also operates a car sharing service for business customers. Their service, WeCar, is available to individual businesses that need frequent access to cars.

Zipcar is the largest car share operator in the world with over 575,000 members. Zipcar came to Austin in 2011 landing at the University of Texas and then expanding to downtown Austin in 2012. Zipcar members pay an annual fee and rent the cars on an hourly basis. Zipcar has over 30 makes and models, from sedans to trucks. This lets you make that run to Ikea for furniture or a trip to the grocery store.

Car2go has been in Austin for a few years and Austin was actually the first city in the US to have Car2go. They operate the fleet of blue and white Smart Cars you’ve seen around town. Car2go has a onetime setup fee and rentals are charged by the minute. Car2go is great for one way trips or when you need access to a car in a jam.


Peer to Peer (P2P): In the Peer to Peer model cars are owned by private individuals and rented out to the community. The car owner sets the rental price based on what the market will bear (aka what they can get for it). The idea is that your car sits idle most of the time (92% for your average car owner). This idle time can be better used by those that need a car, allowing the car owner to make some money and take cars off the road, reducing congestion.

Getaround is Austin’s first P2P business. They launched their service in Austin in March of 2012. Getaround helps members rent out their cars while not in use and assists other members in renting the car they need. To use the service to rent out your vehicle, Getaround provides a free car kit that you place in your car. The kit enables members who want to rent your car to find it over the web and make a reservation. For those looking to rent a car, you can logon to the Getaround website or use the iPhone app to setup your rental reservation. Full insurance coverage is provided so that you, as the car owner or renter, can rest assured you are covered in the event something should happen. Getaround has grown their membership to 10,000 members in the course of only one year. Getaround wants to change people’s mindset around car ownership and believes the Austin community is a great place to start.

No matter your lifestyle or schedule, there is a car sharing service to fit your needs. Or maybe integrating all 3 services works best. If you need more info or assistance getting started with car sharing, contact Movability Austin and we can help.

Could car share help you become a 1 car household? Watch this video to see how one family made the transition.

If these cars could talk from Community CarShare on Vimeo.


Street Thoughts on Rewards!

by Movability Austin

I just read Drivers Who Avoid Traffic Jams. The NY Times article highlighted a pilot that used rewards to encourage people to avoid traffic by using other options or just traveling earlier or later in Palo Alto, CA. The piece prompted a perennial question, “why do people sit in traffic day after day?” Then another, “how can I get that kind of cash to offer people rewards?” Finally the big one settled into my brain, “just how do rewards work anyway?”

And to my surprise there is a whole lot of research on this. There are intrinsic rewards, things your brain creates as an incentive, like little endorphin releases, as a way to continue the routine torture called exercise; but also the perception of independence associated with driving a car. There are external rewards, things others give you for doing something they want, like an ice cream cone for not screaming the entire trip in a car; but also the praise, reputation, or awards you get for doing public service. Then there are all kinds of blending of the two, like in gamification. When people play games, their brains tend to make up many of the rewards. “I’m good at problem-solving.” “I love the adrenaline rush.” But people stay even more engaged in games if there is a social element and external rewards such as trying to outscore and win fame among your friends. There can also be big external payoffs, we call that a jackpot.

So what do rewards have to do with movability? In the past, transportation has been haphazard at best when it comes to rewarding users. The people selling cars consider rewards every minute of every day, but the planners and engineers simply don’t factor rewards into their scope of work. What we get are accidental rewards. For example, you drive a car alone as do thousands of others, then you (collectively) get rewarded with more roads or wider roads and more parking. And thus the cycle went in transportation planning for decades. Until- tah-dah – engineers and planners discovered there wasn’t enough money to keep building and maintain all the roads. Then as brilliant problem solvers, they discovered an elegant solution- negative rewards or pricing. Thus, the concept of monetizing costly behaviors was born. This takes the form of toll roads, congestion pricing, parking meters, etc. Solving two problems at once, the need for cash to build, maintain and operate the now huge road network and charging people as an incentive to change their behaviors. Then came demand management (that’s the technical term for what Movability Austin does) and finally people start focusing on how rewards might really help people.

And what might that help be? Well some people don’t actually want to keep sitting in traffic every day, but their brains have created some reason to justify why they must sit in traffic. Have you ever found yourself saying, “damn this traffic” and then explaining to yourself why you are there, “a car is the only choice,” “I love the convenience of my car,” “I feel safer in my car,” “I can get there faster,” “I have more control/independence.” At one point these stories may have been true, but are they still true? Sometimes they are no longer true. Sometimes they aren’t the right reward anymore. But like all of us, somewhere in the past you made a decision. That decision, when repeated over time, created a habit. Your brain (who is sure you are the most brilliant person alive) then makes sure you have the stories and the rewards to reinforce that habit.

So what can we do to “help,” besides waiting around for you (the abstract you) to get married, have a baby, change jobs, or go on vacation, those big life changing and unique moments where habits get re-evaluated with regularity.

As it turns out, allowing people to create their own positive rewards is usually a stronger, more sustainable and mostly cheaper motivator, therefore demand management began using mostly intrinsic rewards. Congratulating participants on a regular basis for their amazing environmental consciousness, healthy life-style choices, even confirming just how “self-righteous” they could claim to be. And for a small number of people, intrinsic rewards alone work pretty well. For most people, simply knowing what you should (or think you should) do does not translate into behaviors consistent with ones values. We discovered the obvious again in a recent survey “green consumer behaviors,” most people want to believe one thing about themselves, but just have “concern for the environment” or some other belief isn’t really enough to motivate significant changes in behavior.

Adding a little external reward and game playing to the mix works even better. When, for example, utility companies send a bill with your power usage and compare it to your neighbors, you begin to compete with their neighbors.

Hey, maybe that’s why people continue to get into traffic, it is like a video game. It is constantly challenging, sometimes frustrating, and there are real life/death stakes as well. What do you think, is it time to change the game? Can we start looking for challenges and rewards that are more in line with the person you want to be, with the place Austin wants to be?

Wouldn’t it be fun to play this game in Austin?


Car Commuter Turned Bus Rider, and I’m Never Going Back

Getting Around by Jackie Stone from the Austin Post June 20, 2012

Two years ago, I was working for the daily newspaper in Killeen and practically living out of my car. I drove an hour to work and an hour home at night. Although I had planned to move to Killeen when I started the job, I had a sweet deal on rent in Austin and then fell into family and social relationships that tipped the scales to commuting daily, despite the distance.

And, honestly, I became a fan. Though my friends grimaced with sympathy when I talked about the drive, I had no trouble with the hour during which I would catch up on NPR, the Top 40 or books on tape. I reached that sweet spot of driving monotony where you are at once completely aware of your surroundings and completely detached. It is a Zen feeling many commuters understand.

When my opportunity to return to Austin proper and work for the Austin Post presented itself, I jumped at the chance to leave my commuting ways behind. And of course, once I no longer had to drive all the time, I found myself suddenly reluctant to drive anywhere. I began walking to the grocery store and biking to get coffee. But I didn’t turn to public transportation.

When I first moved to Austin seven years ago to go to college at UT, I had tried out the bus system but rejected it thanks to a pair of bad experiences (one hour-and-a-half trip from campus to the mall that I could have made in 15 minutes in a car, and a broken-down bus that made me an hour late for an interview.)

I don’t like relying on other people’s timing, and I really enjoy a good drive. Bus riding was never likely to appeal to me.

But recent circumstances led me to begin riding the bus regularly, and I find myself surprisingly enamored of the process. This summer, I decided to take some classes. My home is fortuitously located on a Cap Metro route that runs roughly from my front porch to campus. Since parking is increasingly expensive and frustrating in Central Austin, I decided to give the bus system another shot.

Lo and behold, my reaction this time is one of joy and satisfaction. Instead of leaving at the last minute, still sliding my shoes into my feet and trailing my purse behind me as I rush out the door, I have to prepare. I arise from bed earlier to make sure I have time to check my emails and start my day for The Post before I go to class, making a cup of tea and planning my day. On the bus, I have time to relax and catch up on reading, muse on my surroundings and occasionally start writing a story (like this one!) while I ride.

The slower pace ensures that I take the time to breathe, and if the bus is late (let’s be real, it does happen and makes me late for class or work when it does), I am allowed to give that up to the bus-gods and say it is beyond my control.

When my class is over, I am at the mercy of the bus schedule once again. But instead of being frustrated by having to wait at the bus stop, I find again that it seems like an opportunity to take my time and use it well. I can go to the Vietnamese place near the bus stop and have lunch while I wait, without feeling like I have to cram lunch in at my desk whenever I remember it. (Some studies suggest that eating while you work increases your chances of obesity and getting food poisoning, so keep those excuses in mind when your boss asks you if you really had to stay out of the office at lunch so long.)

Now a few weeks into my bus-riding experiment, I’ve extended my busing to the weekends, following the line down to Mozart’s on Lake Austin for a cup of coffee and some study time, and so far, so good.

There are still plenty of times when I want to drive my car, whether I absolutely have to be somewhere on time, or just because I enjoy a good leisurely drive once in a while. But I don’t think I’ll ever be up for commuting like I used to, and Cap Metro is now a regular part of my routine. I don’t see that changing even after my summer classes are through.

The original article can be found here.