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For the past nine months or so, I’ve had a wonderful secret I’ve been wanting to share with you: Car2Go.

It’s a car-sharing service but with one game-changing twist: you don’t have to return the car to where you got it.

I know the rest of this post is going to sound like a gushy infomercial, but I really love this service, and vastly prefer it to Zip or Modo. You see, most other car sharing co-ops or businesses have a designated spot for each car, and you book the car for a round-trip; you need to return it.

But this is commonly a problem for two reasons: 1) Life doesn’t always work like that—I often need to go TO a place, but I want to stay there a long time before returning, or I have another way to get home. 2) As long as I have a car booked out, no one else can use it.  So if I drive 15 minutes, go shopping for an hour, then drive back, that’s an hour that the car could have been in use, where it’s just sitting. This makes the system inefficient and drives up costs.

Car2Go solves this by having all trips be one-way: you leave the car anywhere in the main area of Vancouver. The area is from Nanaimo Street in the east to out almost to UBC in the West, and from downtown all the way down to 41st Ave. You can take any available car in this area at any time, just by walking up to it and getting in.

When you’re done your trip, you can park it in any spot on public streets that’s not time restricted, like, not at a meter, not in a lane that’s no parking during rush hour, not in a private lot. But the best part is, you can park in ANY residential permit required spot, and also in many of the garages downtown for free. Often it’s MUCH easier to find parking for a Car2Go than for a regular car—like in Kits or the West End. Now, instead of taking my car and paying at a meter, I take a Car2Go and park closer and quicker.

Using Car2Go is extremely affordable, and even cheaper than using my own car, especially if parking costs are necessary.  The basic costs are:

$0 sign up fee (yep, free) if you use my signup code: “Mobility”
$0 deposit
$0 per year after that
$.35 / minute for a trip, and this includes all gas you use, and all insurance, and up to 200 km.

A 12 minute drive is $4.20—if you’re taking another person, that’s cheaper than the bus; if it’s just you, it’s still cheaper than a cab.

Car2Go cars are all SmartCars, which hold two people and a lot of groceries, and they’re fun to drive.

You use a smartphone to find a car near you, or you call the number and they’ll tell you where one is.

There are some downsides: you can’t reserve a car more than 15 minutes in advance, and sometimes there aren’t any cars around you—but this rarely happens. Sometimes there’s one within a block, most of the time there’s one within 5 blocks. Twice, though, the closest car to me was 900 meters and so I had to bus it. Oh well. Not bad for 9 months.

You can’t end a trip outside the main area; if you take a car to, say, Squamish, you have to keep it checked out until you come back to Vancouver.  However, a whole day is capped at $66, and if you compare that to the cost of a rental car, including the time and hassle to pick it up, drop it off, and fill it with gas, it’s actually still a better deal.

My favorite trick is to use one to drive to dinner and park hassle-free, have half a bottle of wine, and then take a cab back, or to use it to get to an ultimate game, and then catch a ride home.

So what’s the catch? There aren’t very many. You need to have a credit card, a clean(ish?) driving record (and a driver’s license) and 3 years driving experience. That’s pretty much it.

Since I’ve started using Car2Go, I tend to take a bus if there’s one that runs directly, and I use a Car2Go if I’m going someplace awkward to access by bus or I’m in a hurry, and I only use my car when I need to haul extra people or gear.  It’s totally changed the way I move around the city, and it’s saved me money.

They’ve given me a promo code that you can use to sign up for free, and it’ll give you and I both 30 free minutes once you are a member.  So, use my signup code: “Mobility” and join now.

Oh, and I should add that it’s now in Vancouver, Austin, Portland, San Diego, and Washington D.C.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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