Owning a car makes it easy to get around, but the cost of ownership and environmental issues make it less ideal for some. Public transportation is the cheapest and easiest way to get around for many of those who opt out of owning a car, but it’s also the least convenient. Then there are taxi services, which tend to be overpriced and the service you get… well it varies heavily to put it nicely. Thankfully there’s an alternative to all these options – a car sharing service.
There are two basic types of car sharing service: one is more like a taxi. You open your app, hail a ride, and get delivered to where you need to go. The biggest options in this space are Uber and Lyft. But if you want a bit more freedom of where you’re going, how long you’ll need the car, and simply don’t want a driver — there are also services that let you rent a car for as little as few hours.
So let’s jump in and talk about the different ride hailing and car sharing services available today.
Lyft took a while to gain a decent amount of market share from Uber, but now they are one of the biggest car shareing networks in the world. Especially in more populated cities, you’ll be able to find a Lyft at almost any time of day. Here in San Francisco there are almost always 4-5 available cars to use, so you’ll always be able to get around on the fly.
While the service started a number of years after Uber, they reached the $1 billion funding mark just 3 years after launching. It’s clear that the industry has faith in the company as a serious competitor to Uber, especially with all the bad press that Uber has been receiving recently. Lyft has been said to treat their drivers a lot better, but also have lower requirements on how new your car needs to be in order to drive.
Lyft has a referral program that gives you and a friend free rides if you refer them to the service, so it’s worth it to use the service and try to get your friends on it too.
It’s impossible to talk about car sharing without talking about Uber. They are the biggest car-sharing service in the world, and the pure number of cars driving for the service makes it so you’ll always be able to get around if you need to. People often use the company’s name as a verb when talking about car sharing, and when your brand name becomes a verb you know you’ve made it.
Uber and Lyft often compete for the best pricing, but I’ve found Uber to be slightly cheaper on average. If you’re really price-conscious it may be worth it to use Uber more often but we recommend you check all the main options to see what is cheaper in your area.
Uber has a referral program that gives you free rides if your friends sign up for the service. Once you give a friend a referral code and they successfully use the car-sharing service you’ll get a free ride, so it’s beneficial to try and get as many friends on the service as possible.
Getaround is a different kind of car sharing service. This service works by allowing users to rent out their cars when they aren’t using them, and those who rent can get thousands of cars for as low as $5 an hour. This is great for people that don’t drive that often, as they can get paid for use of their car while they aren’t using it. And for people who want to use cars, $5 an hour is an incredibly affordable rate.
The service includes $1 million of insurance, so both users and lenders can rest easy that the car is protected. The service is actually available in quite a few cities, so it’s likely you’ll be able to rent a car wherever you are.
For only $5 an hour it’s hard not to use a service like this.
Zipcar has grown extremely quickly over the last few years, and even have reserved spaces in a number of cities. The car sharing service is extremely convenient for those who need to borrow a car for a couple of hours. After you sign up the company will send you a special card which works in order to access the car you are renting. Before you ride you’ll be able to select the car you want and Zipcar will tell you where it is. After this you can head over to it at your reservation time and use the card to get in.
This service is billed by the hour similar to Getaround, but all the cars are owned and operated by Zipcar themselves. This ensures that whichever car you borrow will be clean and ready to go when you need to use it, and it takes a lot of the chance out of getting a car which is less than optimal or has issues the owner didn’t talk about.
Zimride works a little bit differently from many of the other car sharing services. This service doesn’t have a worker bring you to a location, and doesn’t allow you to rent a car. Instead, it helps connect drivers with those who are looking to head to the same location. This helps drastically reduce the carbon footprint by encouraging carpooling and helps to reduce the cost of the trip for the driver.
The biggest limitation to Zimride is that it is limited to universities or business organizations. This is likely due to security and helps to ensure that drivers will be safe with other riders in their organization. The service is available for quite a few universities and organizations though, so it’s worth it to look and see if your business has a group.
There are loads of car sharing services that are continuing to pop up all over the world, but in many circumstances they are limited to only a few cities. San Francisco is especially popular with these services, and there have been a huge number that have cropped up in the last couple of years alone.
What’s your favorite car share service? Are there any available in more locations that we aren’t aware of?
Let us know!