Personal car sharing almost, not quite, eliminates the middle"man"
According to the Los Angeles Times, in "Personal car-sharing is a new twist on auto rentals," a number of car sharing systems have been set up where a web-based service acts as the intermediary between renters and the use of personally-owned automobiles. The rate is a bit cheaper than what Zipcar charges in the DC area.
From the article:
Emily Castor's metallic gray Honda has been driven by dozens of people she's never met. They treat it well, pay any tickets they get and do the dirty work of finding a legal parking spot when they return it to her neighborhood near Golden Gate Park.
Castor, 29, is pulling in hundreds of dollars each month through one of several personal car-sharing companies that have burgeoned in the Bay Area over the last year. For $8 an hour or $45 a day, renters can climb behind the wheel of her Civic. Insurance is included.
The Bay Area has become a laboratory for personal car-sharing, as well as the broader "collaborative consumption" movement. Rooms in private homes, outgrown children's clothes, parking spaces and more can be rented, borrowed, bartered or gifted through a burgeoning number of Web-based ventures.
Unlike companies such as Zipcar that finance and maintain a fleet of vehicles, personal car-sharing networks are possible wherever enough owners and renters sign up. There are nine operating in the U.S. — at least one of which has plans to expand in Los Angeles— and 25 globally, said Susan Shaheen of UC Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center.
Unstash is a startup working to set up ways for sharing infrequently used items, like tools. (E.g., I would gladly get involved in a collaborative consumption arrangement with someone owning a chipper/shredder.)