Chris and I sold our SUV when we moved to NYC last year. Now that we are living in a more drivable city, we were a little ticked off at ourselves for making such a rash decision about the vehicle. Soon after landing in Portland, Oregon, we discovered that our new city had many options for alternative transportation, including a streetcar system, clean and reliable buses, and many ZipCar locations. Plus, it’s one of America’s most bike friendly cities.
Sometimes though, you just need a set of wheels to whip around the city in when you are zigzagging around doing errands.
We discovered these little cars while at the Bite of Oregon food and wine festival. After a few glasses of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, we sauntered over to make fun of the tiniest cars that we have ever seen. A fast talking college salesman convinced us to sign up for the car2go service, with the promise that he would waive the registration fee and let us spin a wheel for free minutes. I was all about spinning the prize wheel, so we both signed up for access.
The next weekend, we became amateur evangelists of car2go. Here’s why car2go is insanely awesome.
First, car2go is a Daimler company, which means that there has been a ton of money dumped into car2go to make the experience seamless and useful. From the moment we started using the service, we noticed that everything just worked - from the car entry, to the drop-off, to the billing.
There are hundreds of these cars parked in the Portland home area. When you spot a car on the street or find one using your iPhone app map, you can hop in as long as the car is not reserved.
All you have to do is tap your card on the front dashboard on the outside of the car, and it will recognize your account and unlock the door.
Enter your 4 digit pin, then the key will disengage from a holder for you to pull out and use to start the car.
The car costs $12.99 plus tax per hour, but you pay by the minute if you do not use the full hour ($0.35 per minute). That includes gas, insurance, and city parking fees. When you want to exit the car, you can either take the key with you (you will be charged as long as you have possession of the key), or you can re-engage the key, lock it up, and end your trip.
There are so many car2go cars in Portland, that we even pulled up right next to another couple taking one out for a spin. We all got a good laugh out of it. We found that in popular areas of the city like SE Hawthorne, we could end our trip and spend the day hanging out, then find a new car in the area parked on the side of the street within just a few blocks to drive home with. That way, we are only charged for the driving time and not for the time that we spend carrying around the key while we walk from store to store.
Car2go also gives you an ecoscore, so you know how your driving is harming the environment.
We got 45 free minutes from spinning the wheel at Bite of Oregon, so our bill for the entire weekend was pretty low. The other day, we drove a car2go to the gym, and it only cost us $3.50, as opposed to the $4.00 train ride ($2 each).
We’ll be using car2go a lot! Sadly, only a few cities in the US have this service, including Miami, Austin, Washington DC, and San Diego. Hopefully they will be in a city near you soon!