My Car2Go positive but impossible experience: picking up a car in Silver Spring, Maryland
Car2Go is a one-way car sharing service owned by Mercedes. It runs in many cities in North America and Europe. US members can use the service in any other US city, but not in non-US cities.
It costs 38 cents/minute to use and within DC, you can drop it off in most places in the city (not parks, not streets with rush hour restrictions) and "walk away."
This is different from "round-trip" car sharing services like ZipCar, Hertz, or Enterprise Car Share.
With those services, you have to take the car back to where you got it, and you pay for the time that it sits around. Also see "Baby, You Can Drive (or Ride in) My Car: The Basics of Car Sharing and Ride Sharing" from the Wall Street Journal.
Still, I have no problem recommending car share. I think it's great and an important amenity that supports car light urban living.
Also see the past blog entry "Another example of DC's failures in transportation planning: carsharing" and "Cars at Curbside, Available to Share" and "Car-Sharing Gamble in Hoboken Has Mixed Reactions" from the New York Times about how Hoboken, NJ uses car share access to reduce demand for residential car parking and better manage the fixed inventory of parking spaces.
You can take Car2Go out of the city, but you can't leave it and not rack up per minute charges even while the car sits unused. So the idea is to use round-trip car sharing services when you leave the city or need to ensure a trip back, and use one-way service within the city, to complement transit and walking.
So imagine my surprise to see one in Silver Spring on Sunday. I expected that it was a "Vehicle in Use" because the rules are the rules. But I looked at the "card swipe device" in the window and it said "Vehicle Available."
So we took it.
I regret not photographing it for proof of my experience.
Car2Go promotion through December 1st
Using the promo code CAR2GOLIFE will get you a $10 initial membership and 30 minutes of Drive Time.