Prevalence of ride-sharing is a good sign

Ride-sharing services have grown locally because they are convenient and sustainable.

Keelia Moeller

The ability to travel by car without actually purchasing a vehicle is an attractive concept for many. Ride-sharing precludes the need to own a car and pay for all of the added expenses attributable to ownership, such as insurance and maintenance.

The simplicity of car sharing is also appealing to those who seek financial, environmental or social benefits. Fortunately, Minnesota has many car-sharing services.

Car-sharing companies reduce the number of cars on the road, thus eliminating some fossil fuel emissions. Car sharing has also been shown to reduce the number of miles that former car owners drive by 40 percent.

In addition to this, many car-sharing companies offer hybrid vehicles, further reducing the impact drivers have on the environment.

St. Paul and Minneapolis are two of 13 cities in the United States that currently host Car2Go, a German company that allows you to drive a smart car for as long as you want, wherever you want.

With a Car2Go membership, drivers get free parking in meter zones and are not required to pay for insurance, annual fees or fuel. A Car2Go app can track and help you find the next available car to use.

HourCar is a competing service that has been in Minnesota since 2005. It covers gas, insurance and maintenance costs. The company has even created a special plan for students and faculty at the University of Minnesota.

Zipcar is a third car-sharing service offered in the Twin Cities. Its hourly rates vary based on which type of car you select. The company covers gas and insurance.

We should welcome these car-sharing companies with open arms. As of January 2014, a U.S. car-sharing study determined that there were 1,228,573 members sharing 17,179 cars.

However, there’s still room for expansion.

HourCar has managed to set itself apart from other companies by offering a special plan for students and employees of the University. If more companies followed suit, car-sharing would appear much more attractive to students on campus. For college students, money is always a key stress factor.

While Minneapolis has had a successful start in implementing ride-sharing programs, car sharing should expand to areas where it has yet to take hold.

Keeping these companies in big cities is essential, but their reach should be widened to smaller neighboring cities. This will attract customers who wish to visit family or friends residing in relatively close locations.

A wider distribution of car-sharing companies might also increase competitive pricing among them — which could reduce overall prices for customers.

I encourage you to explore the world of car sharing. It will not only save you money on gas, insurance and parking, but it will save the environment from fossil fuels.