City CarShare


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In 2001, City CarShare was launched by transportation visionaries as a Bay Area nonprofit with the goal to make the community a more livable place. Car-sharing means fewer cars on the road, less congestion, and less pollution — plus significant savings for you. City CarShare reports that they have the best rates, the greenest fleet, and the most secure insurance coverage of any car-sharing organization. 

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The Good

  • Fleet
  • Simple process
  • Expense savings
  • Vehicle options
  • Packages

Together with other local nonprofits and funders, along with the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, City CarShare was founded and locations (we call them "Pods") started sprouting up everywhere, like Bay Area wild fennel. From their grassroots fleet of 12 Volkswagen Beetles, they've grown into an area-wide network with hundreds of fuel-efficient cars, thousands of members, and dozens of partnerships with businesses, transportation agencies, and other groups.

To get started all you need to do is sign up, reserve a car, fob into your car, and then head off to wherever you desire. When you join, you'll receive a key fob to access each car you reserve. It's tiny, it fits on your keychain, and it'll open hundreds of car doors. Each member gets one. Just wave it over your reserved vehicle's fob reader, and your doors unlock. When you are finished you return your car to its home parking space (called Pods), fob out to lock the doors, and you're done - real easy.

According to AAA, it costs about $740/month to own and operate a car in the US. With City CarShare you do not have to worry about car payments, gas price, insurance, or repairs. With the gas prices increasing and decreasing often it is comforting to know you do not have to pay for the escalated price.

City CarShare is also working to better the environment. They have reduced the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The cars that they offer are fuel-efficient so there is less fuel being burned. Users can choose from the following car types/models when renting:

  • Hatchbacks
  • All electric
  • Convertible
  • Hybrid
  • Minivan
  • Sedan
  • Truck

There are many different plans that you can choose what works best for you. The plans that are offered are: three different packages tailored to the individual and households, there are two different plans that fit to businesses and organizations, several plans for students and staff involved with universities and colleges, and various others.

The Bad

  • Assurance
  • Availability
  • Insurance

There is no assurance that when you reserve a car that it will be in the pod when you get there. What if you needed the car to make it to an interview? To a doctor's appointment? And it is not there; that is a little frightening. There are also, many little fees that you need to watch for. Some plans contain a membership fee, application fee, mileage fee, hourly fee, and other costs.

City CarShare is located in California, alone. The pods are not located at each corner so you may need to walk a ways to even get to a car, or you need to use public transportation, which costs money, to then get to a car that you are paying to use. The only cities where this platform is located include the following:

  • Alameda
  • Albany
  • Berkeley
  • Daly City
  • El Cerrito
  • Fremont
  • Mountain View
  • Oakland
  • Pleasanton
  • San Francisco
  • San Ramon

City CarShare does offer insurance to drivers, but it is expensive. The premium insurance provides $1 million in protection. The deductible ranges from $50-$500. There is also $15 late fee if you are under 15 minutes late and unable to extend your reservation. $30 late fee for every hour you are late without notification. With notification, they may be able to wave the late fees.

The Bottom Line

City CarShare can relieve the burden of being a car owner. They can lift those costs off of your shoulders, but they have monthly fees as well. They do work to help better the environment which is extremely helpful, especially in the Bay Area. The service can be inconvenient if there is an emergency and you need a car, or if there is a mix up and the car you reserved is not in the pod. Those that use City CarShare can expect the following from the service:

  1. Limited service area
  2. Cheap and environmentally friendly option
  3. Insurance available
  4. Car options to choose from
  5. Easy reservation system

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