Summer is finally here! That means more fun in the sun, longer daylight, schools are off, picnics, travels, and a whole lot of fun. Summer is also the time when we travel more frequently on road- meaning more gas consumption! Now, if it were the ’90s when gas was really cheap, you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid or cared much about driving your truck or that gas-guzzler. But now, with the soaring gas price that is likely to increase even further in the coming months, it makes sense to consider other cheaper alternatives that can help save money. So, how can you save money on gas this summer?
The answer is quite simple! Two words- car sharing! People in the big cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are digging it and they swear by it. Now, even you can benefit from car sharing. Here’s how:
Before getting into the details let’s first talk about what is car sharing and how it works-
What is Car Sharing and How Can it Work for You
First introduced in Switzerland, the concept of car sharing is not new. In fact, it is quite prevalent in the European cities. Good public transportation, coupled with over crowded cities and lack of sufficient parking have been key factors behind its success in the European countries, where many car owners have elected to do away with the wasteful expenses of owning a car and opted for car sharing instead.
Car sharing made its US entry quite recently with many companies realizing its usefulness as well as business potential. CityCarShare and Zipcar are some of the prominent names in this business. Except for Zipcar, most car sharing companies are either city specific or region specific. So, how does car sharing work?
Car Sharing- Access to a Vehicle of Your Choice When You Need It
This is the primary idea behind car sharing. You can make the most of this service by signing up for a car share program. All you need to do is pay a nominal fee to sign up. And then agree to pay for the use of a car as per your requirements. You can hire a car of your choice on an hourly basis without having to pay anything for gas or auto insurance. The hourly rate of hiring a preferred car from the available car is inexpensive as well as convenient. You will also, discover that many car sharing companies offer free trials and other forms of incentives to encourage more people to try out car sharing. In addition to these, you can also pick up the car from a convenient location. However, you do need to have a valid US driver’s license to be eligible for car sharing programs.
Benefits of Car Sharing
Car sharing is for you, especially if you live in the big cities where there is a lack of available parking space. Also, parking rates can be pretty steep (at least $15 to $20 per hour). Not to forget the additional amount you’d need to spend on gas and auto insurance for a vehicle that you barely use! You could probably do without owning a car. This is especially true if you live in the urban areas where you can access buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.
While this a good way of saving money, you cannot depend on public transportation alone. You need to take into account activities such as going for a late night movie and dinner, a get-together at your friend’s place, grocery shopping, or ferrying your kids across town to attend soccer practice or ballet lessons. This is where car sharing can be of great help to you. You will be able to enjoy all the benefits of owning a vehicle without having to pay for all the additional expenses such as auto maintenance costs, gas, and insurance. As a result you can save thousands of dollars each year!
Apart from the monetary savings, other benefits of car sharing include the ability to access cars that you couldn’t previously dream of owning. Thanks to car sharing programs you can now move across town in style!
By opting for car sharing you will be also contributing towards a greener environment around you. This is because when more people share cars, there will be lesser number of cars on the road and less pollution. In addition, fewer cars equals to less congestion and more space for parking. You will also be able to get your destination/s faster as a result. In fact, according to the last census more than 81% of the total population in the United States lives in the cities or in urban areas. This equals to almost 243 million individuals. So, even if 1% of this population opts for car sharing, there will be over 2 million lesser cars on the road!
Disadvantages of Using Car Sharing Programs
Just like any new service, car sharing too has its disadvantages. You do need to reserve a car in advance and you may not always get the car of your choice. Also, you may have to deal with not having access to a car in case of an emergency. However, having said that we all know that such emergencies does not take place everyday. In fact, the 911 emergency services as well as the numerous taxi companies in your area can be of great assistance to you in such situations. And in case of a medical emergency it’s best that you do not drive yourself.
We all know that, the first few steps to accepting something new can be quite daunting and there are bound to be a whole lot of ‘what ifs’ on your mind regarding the usefulness and value of this new concept. However, when you think logically and rationally, you will soon agree that the advantages of car sharing far outweigh its disadvantages. And if you are still not convinced of it’s benefits, you can always begin by using one of the free trial offers and see how it goes for you. I’m sure once you try out this new concept and experience the difference yourself, you will soon forget that you ever doubted its potential and usefulness in the first place!