Car Sharing, Who’s Caring?

u-car-shareU Car Share, a division of U-haul, has arrived in Salt Lake City.  I know, I know.  I hate U-haul.  Talk about a company with horrible working conditions and nightmarish service.  But try to put all that aside.  Rather than pump more black smoke from poorly maintained moving vans, U-haul is trying its hand at appealing to the student, the office jockey and the granola urbanite.

U Car Share provides another alternative, alongside riding a bike or taking a bus, to individual car ownership.  This sort of thing has been going on for years in romantic locals such as McMinnville, Berkeley, Portland and Madison.  But, alas, I have never lived in any of those places.  I do, however, live in Salt Lake City.  Thus I should be thrilled to have access to car sharing.  Yeah!  Woohoo.  Yep.  Hizzaa.  Woopty doo.

I just can’t think of a reason to use it.  I get it.  I do.  I just ain’t excited.  Bear with my math.  My wife and I pay roughly $4000 to $5000 a year to own, maintain and fuel (this includes the 8,000 we paid for it divided over the period of time we have owned it) our only car, a Honda Civic.  With the current rates for U Car Share I could share a similar car for about 8 to 10 hours a week (depending on how many miles/gallons I drove it) for around the same $5000 a year.

We live about 4 blocks (like 8 normal city blocks) from the nearest U Car Share drop-off and pick-up point.  So, we could sell our car and drive nice, new U-Share cars for up to 10 hours a week instead and still pay the same amount of money.  Cool, huh?  Huh.  O.K.  both my wife and I work on the nearby University campus, where there are also pick-up and drop-off points.  So, we could use the car in the morning (after a brisk 12 minute walk) and leave it on campus.  Then we could take it home again in the evening.  But one of us would need to take our son, and we might not leave at the same time, or one of us would need to come back.  But maybe one of us would just stay home with the kid anyway.  So one hour twice a day for 5 days to get to campus.  That is our ten hours.

Nah, we would just take the bus or trax to do that.  So, what about shopping?  Going out to eat?  Visiting friends?  Driving up into the mountains for a hike?  I just don’t get using the U Car Share program for any of these.  If I wasn’t so lazy I would just be riding my bike around for most of this anyway.

You say, “Hey, jerk.  This car sharing stuff isn’t meant for people like you — young, urbanite, granola couples with adopted children and too busy trying to simplify in order to care.”  O.K.  who is it for then?  Well, maybe students for one.  Afterall, why should students park their car coffins on campus just to collect dust while they exercise their minds in ways to save the future?  But when I was a student I wouldn’t have paid $15 dollars to share a car and drive to Walmart when I could have ridden the light-rail system for free, or just borrowed a friend’s car.

I don’t know, maybe I am a big jerk.  Maybe my searing hatred for U-haul is blinding me to their non-profit grubbing, earth-saving ways.  Now that my city finally has a car share program I just can’t care.

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