Car-sharing. What a crazy, wonderful idea. Zipcars go beyond public transportation to provide members with cars (including parking, gas, XM and insurance) for rent. These aren’t your standard rental cars. If you need the car for 2 hours, you get the car for 2 hours. Cars are parked in strategic locations throughout the city. You make your reservation on-line or by phone and your membership card (Zipcard) unlocks the door once you get to the car. It’s self-service, so no need to stand in line at a rental place. This plan includes gas. A gas card is included in the car to fill up once the tank reaches ¼. All cars must be returned to the destination from which they were rented, so no one-way trips (that’s my least favorite part). In some places, businesses are reserving spots specifically for car-share clients.
What does this mean to the business traveler? Say you’re in Chicago for work and you need a car because you can’t very well ask your clients to lunch and take the train. If you rent and have to pay for parking at the hotel, your car rental will cost more than your plane ticket (mine always has). So you reserve a Zipcar for the time(s) you need it and use the L the rest of the time. With rates starting at $7.50 an hour or $56.00 a day, you save your company a bundle and they give you a bonus for increasing productivity. Okay, maybe not the last part but it’s worth a shot. Or if you’re on per-diem, this will save you enough money to do something really cool while you’re in town.
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You can find cars on the website. Current locations include:
- California: San Francisco
- District of Columbia: Washington DC
- Illinois: Chicago
- Maryland: Bethesda, Greenbelt, Rockville, Silver Spring and Takoma Park
- Massachusetts: Allston/Brighton, Amherst, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Medford, Northampton, Somerville and Wellesley
- Minnesota: Minneapolis
- New Jersey: Hoboken, New Brunswick, Princeton
- New York: Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Rochester, White Plains
- North Carolina: Chapel Hill
- Rhode Island: Providence
- Virginia: Arlington, Alexandria and Springfield
- Canada: Toronto