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Time Sharing Cars

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the imagine-the-late-fee dept.

Technology 298

timmy_walker writes "This article from the associated press talks about new car time share services from ZipCar and Seattle-based Flexcar, where "Customers make reservations via computer or telephone, and the company uses remote-access systems to control who can use the car when.""

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Time Share (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224618)

I used to have a Ford Fiesta which I used to time share, between me and the goddamn mechanics.

Re:Time Share (3, Funny)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224726)

But instead you paid them to rent it out for the weekend.

Hey Vince! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224619)

You ZipCar Whore! First Post!

Sex (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224620)

I like sex!

Re:Sex (0, Offtopic)

TheCrawlingShadow (834348) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224863)

it's just too bad you never get any!!!

Re:Sex (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224955)

In reply to your IM you sent me CrawlingShadow, I will NOT have sex with you, CmdrTaco and Cowboi. Sorry :(

There are many others out there. (5, Informative)

sjrstory (839289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224622)

This is much like Autoshare [] in Toronto, Canada. There are many others [] as well. A good resource can be found here. []

Also (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224877)

Co-operative Auto Network [] , in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Tofino, Courtenay, and Cortes Island (in BC, Canada).

Re:There are many others out there. (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224968)

Yes and Autoshare has been around since 1998. They also cost only about $6 Canadian making it about half the price of the two companies in the article.

Why is this news? This is not new.

Taxis (1)

upsidedown_duck (788782) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224629)

Are taxi drivers unionized?

Other Rental Services (4, Funny)

jgclark123 (812195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224630)

Why stop at cars? Instead of mail-order brides, rent-a-wife!

Re:Other Rental Services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224649)

I can't think of anything worse. Women are either short term dabbles or long term investments. Attempting to invest in one short term is expensive, demanding, and plain stupid.

Wisdom indeed : (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224658)

Whether it flies, floats, or fucks, it's cheaper to rent than own !

Re:Other Rental Services (1)

adeydas (837049) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224666)

rent a terrorist, rent a bush...

Re:Other Rental Services (2, Funny)

gloth (180149) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224682)

Think of it: rent-a-wife / get-a-hooker is one of the oldest businesses out there. A heck of a lot older than car sharing!

Re:Other Rental Services (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224684)

Or in your case, rent-a-sheep.

Re:Other Rental Services (4, Funny)

complete loony (663508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224912)

So you want to pay someone to come over to your house on a temporary basis and nag you and withhold sex because of some perceived slight that you don't even remember?

Re:Other Rental Services (2)

lsmeg (529105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224994)

Why stop at cars? Instead of mail-order brides, rent-a-wife!

In fact the same company could offer both services and call itself Rent-a-Ride...

Right...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224631)

with used cars so cheap, um no.

Re:Right...... (3, Insightful)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224785)

Except that when your cheap used car sits there not being used, you're still paying for insurance, and possibly parking. On top of that you have to try to find the cheapest gas station you can when you drive your own car, while the flexcar or zipcar price is flat and includes gas. And don't forget how much maintenance adds to the cost of a "cheap" used car.

Re:Right...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224819)

sure if you buy for looks only, best used cars to buy are the ones you find in HEAVY fleet usage, chevy impalas, caprice, Ford crown vics,honda civics, any rig that you see in heavy use by business will have nowhere near the parts and maintenance cost of the years latest fad.

Coming soon.. Hike a Car (1)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224640) 4&tid=222&tid=1 How long before we get a similar /. article for cars?

They have this in the UK (4, Informative)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224644)

There's a very similar sounding system running in the UK, in London, Edinburgh, Bristol and Brighton. It's run by Smart Moves [] , and involves cars that are parked in designated spots, booked by phone or web, with access via smartcard. It's been quite polular here in Bristol, by all accounts, and many new housing developments are including car club spaces in their plans.

nice but (2, Insightful)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224645)

Public transportation is more convenient and cheaper.

sure except (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224699)

it isn't.

Re:nice but (5, Informative)

smonner (468465) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224705)

More convenient than a car? Maybe in some cities, but certainly not all. There are a lot of areas in my city that would require several transfers and a lot of time to get to by public transport. So assuming the car was in a resonable location relative to my starting point/home, this could be ideal.

Re:nice but (1)

LetterJ (3524) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224769)

Mass transit is definitely NOT more convenient than a car. I live in St. Paul and work in downtown Minneapolis, across the river. When I drive, it takes me about 15 minutes. Taking the bus (with no transfers) takes me a 10 minute walk and a 45 minute ride. I still do take the bus most days, but convenience is by far the least influential factor. When you add the fact that my route only runs every 30 minutes, depending on when you want to leave and arrive, you can easily end up with well over an hour before you get where you want.

Re:nice but (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224878)

Mass transit is definitely NOT more convenient than a car.

For you, maybe. For me, I think I'm better of without one. depends on where you live, where you work, where your friends live, your lifestyle, local climate, blah blah blah. Everyone's making sweeping generalisations based on their own situations here (inluding me)

What adds to your convenience? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11225002)

I have a bus stop right 20m from my apartment door and a few hundred meters from my workplace and I don't need to change buses. However taking a bus still takes twice as long as driving. Perhaps (more) dedicated bus lanes could ameliorate that but the pick-up, put-down time is still going to be a significant factor.

The most inconvenient thing about using a car is the money. Between insurance, upkeep and depreciation I think using public transport exclusively would be more cost effective for me. But spending an extra half hour each way to get too and from work is an investment in itself.

Must offer something better (5, Interesting)

RomanD (844958) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224718)

I agree about public transportation but this is why Zipcar must offer something that is not possible with taxi or public transport. Pickup trucks per hour for example. Living in a college town like Boston, people are always moving things but being away from home and parents no noone has cars/trunks.

Re:nice but (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224722)

Public transportation is more convenient and cheaper.

I'd say "convenient" can be defined several different ways. For instance, is it more convenient for me to spend half of my travel time waiting for buses and trains on a Sunday, or would I rather spend the 9 bucks an hour and rent one of these things and actually spend my time getting around and doing what I need to do? It's also certainly more convenient if I need to make a trip to Home Depot to grab a bunch of crap...

Re:nice but (3, Informative)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224728)

sure. when it is. i normally take the bus in seattle or walk. but on the odd occasion that i need to drive out to the burbs to buy something or visit friends i can without having to deal with a cab. they only charge me when i use it, which is rarely. its nice to have the option.

my only complaint is that the stupid web site only deals with ie, so i'm stuck using the fairly painful phone menu.

Re:nice but (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224757)

Nobody ever lost their license for RWI. Remember that tomorrow night.

Re:nice but (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224794)

exactly. who wants to drive when someone else will do it for you for free.
Lesson 1: it's safer to bum off rides

Re:nice but (2, Insightful)

blincoln (592401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224782)

Public transportation is more convenient and cheaper.

Yes, it's certainly more convenient to take groceries, home electronics, etc. etc. home on the bus.

It's certainly more convenient to try and get home from a club on the bus only to realize that they stopped running at 11:30PM because your city is too poor to run them any later.

It's certainly more convenient to wait half an hour (or more) in the rain, because the last one came by five minutes early.

Public transportation is shit. I've had to deal with it for the last ten years in two cities. It's filthy, it's slow, I can't take anything substantial on it, and it doesn't go where I need to. I bought a car eight months ago, and it's been great. I can get places in ten minutes that used to take me an hour or more each way on the bus. I can go buy things at stores instead of mail-ordering them. On Monday I get a parking pass for my building at work, and then I can finally ditch the last vestiges of my reliance on public transportation and not have to worry about being half an hour late if I get out the door a minute later than I planned.

Time-sharing a car seems like an ideal plan for someone who wants that level of convenience but not the pricetag that comes along with actually owning one.

Re:nice but (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224856)

Yes, it's certainly more convenient to take groceries, home electronics, etc. etc. home on the bus.

I take it you haven't discovered the unalloyed joy of home delivery [] yet?

If you can bag a job where you can work from home occasionally, there's really no other way to go.

Re:nice but (1)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224805)

Least insightful post EVAR.

Public transportation is so ridiculously less convenient than a car that I can't believe anyone would say otherwise except in jest.

And it's only cheaper if your time isn't worth anything.

Re:nice but (2, Insightful)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224838)

> Public transportation is so ridiculously less convenient than a car that I can't believe anyone would say otherwise except in jest.

> And it's only cheaper if your time isn't worth anything.

you could always use your time on public transport productively. Got a laptop? Read Books? listen to talking books, even?

You can get some decent research time on a middle-to-long bus ride. Try reading a study guide while driving and see where that gets you.

Re:nice but (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224892)

this is at least your 3rd post defending public transportation. get a life or is this one of your ways to "use your time on public transport productively"

Re:nice but (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224940)

Using public transport in my area (DC Metro/Maryland/Virginia) means moving slowly for about 2 hours for any given trip. This precludes dealing with the kids, walking the dog, and all of those other things that simply don't happen on a bus. Not to mention, a lot of people actually do actual work that requires hands-on in a place of employment. Not everyone is an academic, a student, or a hipster lefty info-jockey that can bank on a paycheck based on things they type while riding in clean, idyllic, broadband-enabled, hydrogen-powered buses that go right to the door of their every destination.

Re:nice but (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224989)

Guess it depends on your town, but my situation (Sydney NSW) is pretty good, public transport-wise. We've got decent train service (if a bit downtrodden), pretty good buses (if you're not anal-retentive over exact timetables), light rail (from just near my house into the main station) and best of all the ferry network, which is amazingly enjoyable on a summer morning on the way to work. We've even got a monorail, though it's of limited utility to everyine except tourists.

No on-bus broadband yet, but the light rail has several open APs along its length.

If your town's public transport sucks, get vocal about it. If you don't, it'll just atrophy as more people take their gas guzzlers to work

Re:nice but (3, Interesting)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224807)

Public transportation is more convenient and cheaper.

This is very true, as long as where you're heading is serviced by public transport, without and excessive number of changes.

I work about 15kms outside the middle of Sydney (North Ryde). Luckily, I live within a short walk of the main bus terminal in the Centre (QVB). If I lived in the Eastern Suburbs somewhere, I'd have to catch a train or bus in, then my usual bus out again, which is frankly a pain, and quite time consuming. None of my immediate colleagues use PT for this very reason. It's painful for them, so they drive (and incidentally bitch about the traffic). I don't think it occurs to the two who live close to each other to carpool, but that's another story.

Now cycling, that's different. It's a good ride on a decent day, takes roughly an hour for me, which is only 15 mins more than the walk/bus combo. It's more environmentally sound than Public Transport, you've as much freedom of destination as with a car, and your health is miraculously improved (though your chances of being maimed by traffic are probably higher). The initial investment is only a couple of hundred bucks, if you're not a gadget freak like me and end up spending way too much on titanium bits.

Of course if more people used PT, then PT could service more areas, this is obvious, but as things stand public transport is only a partial solution (and I'm an advocate of it)

Re:nice but (2, Insightful)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224843)

Cheaper, yes, but how is it more convenient? I guess it depends on how good your public transport is. My job involves a shift that begins at 6am. The very earliest I can get there by bus is 6:20, and that is of course just to somewhere down the street from the building, it'll be a bit later than that before I can actually report in and be ready for work. And that's even optimistic because they cannot guarantee that the second bus I have to transfer to will not have come and gone early, or that my first bus will not be a couple minutes late, leaving me to wait another 15 minutes while still only half-way there.

Under better conditions, like not having to work until 8, one can plan against such schedule problems caused by traffic and plan to be there half an hour early every day. Great, but the trip is still taking three times as long as it would by car, and I have better things to do. Picking up something on the way home from work is a chore, as you've got to have it planned out for each place you might want to visit along the way, are limited in what you can lug around, and are basically a slave to their schedules. With my car (which I will admit is the main reason I have to keep a careful budget) I can move about freely, whenever I want to, never waiting in the cold, for it never leaves without me. I'm also one of those people that finds driving relaxing, even city driving. I'm very low-risk for road-rage, driving's just fun. :) Anyhow, it's way more convenient than the bus, at least where I live, and it is well-worth the money to me. Missing the bus, waiting in the cold, having to leave evening events earlier than others, these things stress me out and make me unhappy. It turns out that money really can buy happiness, in some forms.

Re:nice but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224911)

Hey! No making fun of us (U.S.) Americans for whom public transportation remains a dream available only to "developed" developed countries!

There *are* pockets of civilization here, after all!
(Damn few, I admit, but that makes them all the more precious, doesn't it?)

Who can forget Emma Lariat's famous words:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to get to
Middlebelt and Joy in under 20 minutes"?

What better exemplifies the (U.S.) American can-do attitude? [Speak up, Arnold!]

Re:nice but (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224960)

Public transportation is more convenient and cheaper.

It depends.

Public transit's definitely better for getting to work and back in bad weather. (In good weather, I take my bike, which is even better.) But it's worse for running errands, visiting friends and family, or trips out of town. Which are pretty much the only uses I have for a car. Compared to the thousands of dollars I've put into buying, insuring, and maintaining an automobile, one of these services would be a huge bargain! Hell, even taking a bus to the car-share lot would be worth it.

Is it cheaper? (1)

mveloso (325617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224973)

From a pure cost perspective is public transit in the US really cheaper?

You're thinking "cheaper" because your fare might be only a dollar or two. You're ignoring the substantial infrastructure costs associated with building out a public transit system.

For the older systems the infracstructure maintenance costs are relatively large, but because the costs are spread out in the form of taxes the cost is less visible.

It'd be interesting to see how much a new transit system (like in Dallas or Austin) would be relative to the cost of giving each rider a new (or used) car. Project the cost out by 10 years, and the car will most likely be cheaper (just from the taxes from gas purchases).

Re:nice but (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11225000)

Cheaper yes, more convenient no. When I lived in SF I could drive for 5-10 minutes to work, spend 0-5 minutes finding parking within a couple blocks, and be done. Taking public transport to work required two buses and the muni train and took 30 to 60 minutes. As a network admin, I found this to be highly impractical, but it would be plenty bad for other people too. Mind you, SF has one of the best public transportation systems in the US, so basically I am calling bullshit. Let's not even get into stuff like going shopping for a family, or making a trip to the ER without paying a grand or more for an ambulance ride. These are things simply not reasonable to do with public transportation (except that a cab might get to you faster and be cheaper than an ambulance...)

policy (2, Funny)

nwerneck (780169) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224653)

I would really like to know what time sharing policy they are implementing... Fastest job first? FIFO? Multiple lines? random??...

Re:policy (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224663)

it's implemented as a priority queue.

How can this happen in NYC. (1)

Chatmag (646500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224660)

"Inside my Zipcar, the key is hanging from a cord near the ignition -- which would appear to be an unwise place to leave a key in the city. But the ignition unlocks only after I presented my card, so nobody else can break in and start the car."

This is also offered in New York, where if you slow down, your car is stripped?

Re:How can this happen in NYC. (1)

BlueRain (90236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224996)

The cars are in garages, where they are monitored.

--A happy ZipCar Member...

I'm in (1)

koan (80826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224673)

Sounds like a great idea to me.

Time Shifting Cars (-1, Offtopic)

neko9 (743554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224679)

wow... it's 4:37 in the morning... i'm going to sleep.

What if... (1)

killa62 (828317) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224691)

say someone is late in returning their car and the next person has to go somewhere with the car. But when it's time for the first dude to return the car, he doesn't, isn't the 2nd guy screwed??? 1. Rent Car 2. Don't Return 3. Other guy is screwed????? 4. PROFIT!!!

Re:What if... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224851)

The system knows exactly where the committed car is, and if it's not available for the next cusmtomer, another one that is ready will be queued accordingly.

Running late? (2, Interesting)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224698)

Can anybody here who's familiar with similar systems comment on how reliable it is? I mean, I've lost count of all the things that could mess with the scheduling required for a system like this...traffic...accidents...slow driving...getting lost...

Re:Running late? (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224770)

I suspect they'll handle a late return the same way phone companies handle somebody using more than her allotted minutes. They probably hope people will be late.

Re:Running late? (4, Informative)

g3000 (799075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224889)

I haven't used it, but I have a good friend who uses Flexcar here in Seattle.

According to her, it's not a "dream solution." There has been a time or two when the car in the spot closest to her apartment hasn't been available on short notice, etc. etc. But Flexcar did ultimately make it possible for her to make the leap to get rid of her personal car altogether. She lives and works downtown and uses the bus system, but was holding on to her car for that one-Saturday-a-month when she would make the big grocery store run, do the miscellaneous errands that took her to other parts of the city, and/or pick up something too big to carry alone on a bus.

Without Flexcar, she would have had to meet the expense of keeping the car around for those odd occasions, as Seattle is not quite ready for most young professional types to live by public transportation alone, a la New York City.

Simple Chemistry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224905)

The cars are in XS.

Meh (3, Insightful)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224701)

People have cars for privacy - its your own little home on wheels you can take anywhere, this is just a gloryfied rental car? Just get the bus...

Re:Meh (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224942)

> People have cars for privacy

Shame they're not actually all that private.

Think of all the people who act as if they are though (nose picking, singing along to bad tunes, shaving while driving etc... and worse)

Re:Meh (1)

NardofDoom (821951) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224977)

People have cars for privacy

You must be the guy I see picking his nose every morning in traffic...

Keeping them clean? (5, Interesting)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224707)

How do they keep people from smoking in these things or keeping people from trashing them? Spilled coffee Someone's kid getting car sick Fast food wrappers Someone's homless person or dog shitting all over the thing? Seems like their would be a huge reduction of accountibility for these cars.

Re:Keeping them clean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224732)

I don't know about you but most Slashdotters have the accountability to spell correctly and use <br> tags properly.

Re:Keeping them clean? (1)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224826)

I assume it's like any rental. If they find that stuff in there after you use it, they charge you (and probably a lot).

Re:Keeping them clean? (4, Informative)

Schmucky The Cat (687075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224881) le&plp=5&thisRegion=Seattle+Metro&rc=1

Smoking/Pets Fee: Fee for smoking in a vehicle or carrying pets without a pet carrier is $200.

Cleaning Fee: Emergency vehicle cleaning (interior not ready for next member) is $200 plus costs.


Re:Keeping them clean? (3, Informative)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224917)

Hmmm.. very interesting incentives:

Other Fees/Credits

General Membership Fee:
All plans require an annual fee and selection of a rate plan. Members may change rate plans before the last day of the month at no charge.

Reservation Cancellation Fee:
Reservations may begin and/or end on the hour or half-hour. No charge for cancellation if reservation is cancelled within one hour of making reservation or more than 8 hours before scheduled use. Otherwise member will be charged rates for all hours reserved less any hours used by another member.

Premium Class Vehicle Fee:
Premium vehicles, denoted on the Website, are $2 more/hour. Fee waived for Advantage 100 Plan members.

Late Return Fee:
If a vehicle is returned late you will be charged a $20 fee plus incurred costs (up to $100). Late fee is waived if Flexcar is notified in advance of late return (other fees may still apply, i.e., cab fare).

Inconvenience Fee:
Member will be charged $75 plus costs for inconveniencing other members (no fuel, no ignition key, car not parked in Flexcar spot, etc.).

Damage Fee:
Member is responsible for the first $500 of $1,000 deductible for any damage to the vehicles. If you do not report damage you may be held responsible for the first $750 of the $1,000 deductible. Insurance policy information is available at each Flexcar office.

Smoking/Pets Fee:
Fee for smoking in a vehicle or carrying pets without a pet carrier is $200.

Cleaning Fee:
Emergency vehicle cleaning (interior not ready for next member) is $200 plus costs.

Ignition Key Replacement Fee:
Vehicle ignition key replacement fee is $75/hour plus materials.

Remote Unlocking Fee:
Remote unlocking of Flexcar vehicle is $15.

Keycard Replacement Fee:
Members will be charged $15 for a new Flexcar KeyCard.

Parking Tickets:
Member is responsible for all parking tickets during trip. Investigation, resolution of parking, towing, tickets, etc. is $20/hour plus costs.

Vehicle Washing Credit:
Members earn a $5 credit plus reimbursement (up to $12 total) for washing vehicle (receipt required).

Gasoline Credit:
Members receive a $2 credit for refueling (required if tank is at ¼ or less upon return of the vehicle).

Referral Credit:
Members who refer new members receive a $20 credit per new member.

Re:Keeping them clean? (2, Informative)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224943)

Seattle Metro Rate Plans

Standard $9.00 per Hour Each hour includes 30 free miles.
Advantage 5 $43.75 per Month Up to 5 hours and 150 miles.
Advantage 10 $85.00 per Month Up to 10 hours and 300 miles.
Advantage 25 $200.00 per Month Up to 25 hours and 750 miles.
Advantage 50 $375.00 per Month Up to 50 hours and 1500 miles.
Advantage 100 $700.00 per Month Up to 100 hours and 3000 miles.
Advantage 200 $1350.00 per Month Up to 200 hours and 6000 miles.
Advantage 300 $1950.00 per Month Up to 300 hours and 9000 miles.

Time Shaving Cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224724)

Did anybody else read this as Time Shaving Cats? No? ...

Won't scale well (3, Interesting)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224727)

This may work on a small scale, but I know how people treat rental cars, and many people trash the cars that they own. I'm supposed to drive one of these things after Comic Book Guy does God knows what in the back seat? I don't think so.

Right now these companies have a limited membership that they can screen. But this will never survive the transition to big-time.

Re:Won't scale well (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224875)

Why not have a rating system, like Ebay.

When you receive a car, you score the condition it is in online. If you want a good score, you better make sure the car is clean when you are finished, even if the pig before you made a mess.

Each member is then scored based on how he handed the car off to the next person. Groups can then be formed around ratings. Each group has a minimum score - if a user meets the requirement, he can join the group and borrow the car.

This way, slobs who don't pick up after themselves, or who don't really care if the car is well cleaned will get that type of car. Neat-freaks will receive perfectly clean vehicles.

Is this news? (2, Informative)

lar3ry (10905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224733)

I first found out about ZipCar from an advert in a T station (subway for those of you not in New England) in Boston. This had to be a few years ago--possibly 2001.

Since I live in NH, it wasn't available to me at the time, but I thought it was intriguing, especially for people that don't drive that often.

I hate Slashdot so much...... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224747)

Why do I keep reading? It's like Jerry Springer for geeks or something.....

Good Idea (2, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224748)

Is there anyone out there who'd like to share their Ferrari or Porsche with me? I'm not picky, either will suffice ...

Now just where are.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224754)

Those bike hackers when you need them? []

Ottawa's Cool Car Sharing Program (3, Informative)

Darklamp (648653) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224758)

In Ottawa they have a very successful car sharing program. Have a look at their website: [] They are mostly using Ford Focuses and I think they even have a mini-van for share. I believe it is a great idea in any urban area. Insurance rates are pretty costly in the area.

Dent-and-scratch (4, Interesting)

ZeeExSixAre (790130) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224761)

Who's going to be responsible for all the dent-and-scratch stuff on the cars? Sensors wouldn't pick it up because it's not violent enough. Unless people are examining the cars before they get to the next user, there's sure to be a lot of finger-pointing.

In metro areas, bicycles are vastly faster anyways. If you can stand to get sweaty, that is...

A great idea that needs more press. (4, Interesting)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224766)

There are times when public tranportation is useful... I was a bus man for many years.

But, frankly, there's times when it's a pain... it's off-peak hours, the weather is crappy, you have to go a long distance with several transfers, you're picking up something that can't be easily carried around, you're going on a date (well, not YOU, per se... but a non-slashdot reader).

I got quite sick of planning to be on the bus several hours per day when I worked on the far side of the city, but I couldn't afford the incredibly outrageous amounts for a car.

I mean, come on folks... it's a freakin CAR, it's not made of gold, it doesn't come with a built-in treasure map... why in the name of Linus should a chunk of metal that explodes dead dinosaurs to move cost $40,000+, and have insurance, consumables, and maintenance that can add up to many thousands per year more? I think they're priced that way because we're all conditioned to think that they should be expensive.

But, I digress. I wish this had been available when it was the right time of life for me to use it... a convenient way to have occasional access to a vehicle (an occasional requirement in a city with an extremely low population density like Edmonton) without having to bend over and take it up the ass from all the fuckers who seem to think that because the word "auto" has 4 letters, all the associated costs should have 4 digits (significant). I hope projects like these get more coverage, and help stop the rush of people going out to buy cars they can't afford with loans they can't afford on income they can't guarantee.

Doesn't cost $40,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224806)

They don't cost $40,000, unless you feel you need an Audi or Expedition Eddie Bauer Edition. If you just want a car to move you from point A to point B, a 10 year old Toyota or other reliable car that costs $2000 ought to do nicely. If it breaks down expensively, buy another $2000 car. And you'd only need liability insurance, no comp or collision.

Re:Doesn't cost $40,000 (2, Insightful)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224866)

Chances are the damn Toyota won't break down either. Mine had over 200k miles on it before someone rear ended it and the only part I had to replace was a batery and a few mufflers (ya for lifetime warrenties).

Even new cars aren't $40k. You can even pickup new cars for around $12k if you want something a little more reliable or fancier.

Re:A great idea that needs more press. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224834)

They have this great invention called "used cars" which can be had for less than $1000.

Re:A great idea that needs more press. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224971)

With few exceptions, you don't want a $1000 used car unless you are a mechanic or you are married to or at least fucking one. You're going to end up spending at least $3000 on the average least-expensive used car, either up front or in repairs you'll have to do either very soon or within the first year. People who hang onto a car so long that its resale value is that low are usually not buying a better car because they got a bunch of money, they're buying another car because the old one is about to or is in the process of nickel and diming them to death. It's kind of like the old adage about all bicycles weighing 50 pounds: A 10 pound bicycle needs a 40 pound lock, a 25 pound bicycle needing a 25 pound lock, and a 50 pound bicycle not needing a lock.

Cheap-ass used cars are simply not a solution for most people, especially if they live in California or another state (or just a metro area) which does emissions testing. Shit, you can't even pass a smog check if your check engine light is burned out and most people would get utterly lost just replacing the CEL bulb.

Better yet (1)

IgLou (732042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224780)

Can I timeshare a computer? A really good one with high end everything. I'll book it when during peak times for mmorpg'ing.
Why is everyone looking at me funny??

Lacking Accountability and Ownership (2, Funny)

Indy Media Watch (823624) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224788)

Remember Lawrence Summers dictum:

"In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car"

Re:Lacking Accountability and Ownership (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224852)

Rental Car companies do every day. Larry Sumners is an idiot.

A better story from ams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224798)

A story:

I had a friend who worked as a tech in a retail camera shop. He had a
coworker who collected "dumb questions" that people would ask him over
the phone. "My [whatever] doesn't work. Do I need to bring it in?"

"No," he would reply pleasantly, "Just hold it up to the phone."

As his birthday approached, his coworkers enlisted my help to give him
a special present. We got together over a few beers and they coached
me on the absolute *dumbest* sequence of questions that could possibly
be asked:

"I dropped my camera into the deep fryer at work. What should I do to
clean it up?"

"It was only in the fat a few minutes; do you think it needs service?"

"I took apart the [non serviceable module] and a little spring shot
out; do you have one?"

And so on for about four or five minutes. After that, I gave him the
clincher. "It doesn't appear to be working properly," I said, "Should
I bring it in?"

"No," he replied as expected, "Just hold it up to the phone."

So I did!

"There, just there! Did you hear that slight mechanical
scraping? Listen again." "Did you get it that time?
"There it was again!"

To top it off, I did it with a straight face... or phone voice,
anyway... and my friend's coworker was positively walking on air the
rest of the day. It was told and retold in that shop for years.

Jones... who says, "Practice makes perfect!"

Damn! (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224810)

I forgot to reserve the getaway car!

It's too expensive. (2, Interesting)

Schmucky The Cat (687075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224835)

FlexCar charges both by the mile (35 cents) and by the hour (9 dollars) with a small number of free miles for each hour (generally 30).

I live in Seattle and haven't been enthused about it.

To take a flex car to somewhere close but inconvenient that isn't served by bus, say a doctor appointment where you need time, is going to cost about $30 just for the time.

Or a trip to a nearby city, (Seattle to Everett) that might take an hour to drive there and back, but easily put 100 miles on a car... again, $30.

At the $30 mark, you can easily get a rental car for the entire day. Most real rental cars have enough free miles to make nearby but long trips.

Truly I don't know anyone who pays for FlexCar out of their own money who keeps using it.

I'd really like it if I could just grab a FlexCar on some one-way trips, like when I see one parked in a Park and Ride, it's cold, and my bus is late... but you have to return it where you find it and it's not quite so spontaneous to take them. C'est la vie, it hasn't worked for me.

Re:It's too expensive. (1)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224901)

Sounds like a taxi would better serve your needs and you wouldn't have to worry about driving.

You do bring up a good point. What kind of market are these companies cornering?

Ask Slashdot: Ubuntu/FreeBSD GZIP problem (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224854)

I just switched from Ubuntu from FreeBSD. Before switching I had made and tested a tarball of my home directory. It would extract successfully using the command 'tar -zxf'. I'm now in FreeBSD and completely unable to extract it.

me@computard $ tar -zxf home.tar.gz
tar: Unrecognized archive format: Inappropriate file type or format

me@computard $ gunzip home.tar.gz

gunzip: home.tar.gz: not in gzip format

So, it looks like it's no longer a valid gzip?
I also tried from WinRAR in Windows with no luck.

The file seems to start with a few pages of one character, a page of "3", then a bunch of other characters with no plain order.

Anyone know any gzip recovery techniques, or how I might be able to get some of my data back?

Time to learn! (1)

ulcer_boy (675343) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224868)

If I wasn't married with a kid and was a member of the aforementioned rogue bike-hacking squad...

I would need to learn how to create an RFID transmitter (or several if multiple "processors" are necessary) which could cycle through the range of available codes as quickly as possible (if it is known that they are only using a small consistent segmant of the possible codes that would make it much faster). Then I'd find out how to identify the reserved parking spots the company uses. Then I'd find out how to disable and spoof the GPS tracking unit the company uses.

Ok, that sounds like a pain in the ass.

flexcar in San Diego (2, Interesting)

mo (2873) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224879)

My condo in downtown San Diego only has one parking spot which is permenantly claimed by my wife's car (it's nicer than my car). If I didn't have to commute via car every day I'd gladly subscribe to the flexcar that sits a block away. Heck, the subscription would pay just for the parking spot that car occupies. I can see this being a real benefit in other places where parking is brutal like beach areas or other urban centers.

Zipcar user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11224884)

I am a zipcar user in Hoboken, NJ. I use it for occasional trips that last a few hours.

This link should answer most questions about the service. []

Reminds me of something... (1)

lamasquerade (172547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224913)

Is this guy Fraiser? ...oh yeah - Fraiser has a BMW...

Getting lucky (1)

wheelbarrow (811145) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224946)

Let me paint 2 scenarios. Both involve a first date with a beautiful woman. In the first, you roll up in a rinky dink little shared car. In the second, you roll up in something slick that you own. Which scenario offers a better chance of getting lucky?

Expensive... (1)

lamasquerade (172547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224952)

US$8.50 for an hour? I guess with this kind of service (more overheads?) it is reasonable, but seems a bit pricey when I could get a car for AU$21 [] for the whole day.

Also: City car share (1)

dokebi (624663) | more than 9 years ago | (#11224987) They seem cheaper than the ones mentioned in the article--$4/hr peak, $2/hr off peak, 44cents/mile. They run in the SF bay area, and are actually pretty good. I used to live near a convenient transit hub, so I hardly ever drove my car except for some grocery shopping and errands. But I still had to spend $$$ for my car, plus insurance etc.
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