CAR2GO Car Sharing Picking Up Speed In Columbus

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CAR2GO reserved parking near OSU's Mirror Lake(Photo: Sam Hendren/WOSU)
CAR2GO reserved parking near OSU's Mirror Lake(Photo: Sam Hendren/WOSU)

You’ve probably been seeing a lot of blue-and-white Smart cars around town. They’re the super-sub-compact two-seaters bearing the logo CAR2GO. They belong to one of North America’s largest car-sharing companies. They’ve been in Columbus for about three months and usage is on the increase.

Martin Tusler and his wife live in German Village and both work at Ohio State. They usually commute together, but recently, Tusler decided to spend the morning at home. He chose to rent from CAR2GO to get to campus.

“This morning I expected to find one closer to my house; I live in German Village. And unfortunately I looked on the app that goes with it. I looked on my phone and there wasn’t one very close. So I walked over toward Schiller Park and I happened to see one over there so I grabbed it,” Tusler says.

car2go map

CAR2GO has a total of 250 Smart cars in Columbus. They’re dispersed at strategic points around the city where they’re likely to get the most use. Ohio State has 45 reserved parking spaces for CAR2GO vehicles. That’s according to Nicholas Hill, who manages the company’s Columbus operations.

“Those are on-campus spots, right next to the Oval and Mirror Lake, up by St. John Arena, by the Ohio Stadium; 45 spots within 10 different parking locations on campus,” Hill says.

Joining CAR2GO requires a $35 one-time fee. After approval, you get a credit-card-sized card from the company that gives you access to any vehicle that’s available.

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“You get a card; you tap that on the windshield at a 3-by-5 box that’ll unlock the door. When you get in the car it will ask for a pin code so that we know that it’s you. You pull the key out, put that into the ignition and drive to where you need to go.

“Once you’re there you turn the car off, put the key back where you got it, close all the doors, roll up the windows and tap your key on the front and the rental is over,” Hill says.

How much does it cost? It’s 38 cents a minute, Hill says. You only pay for the time that you’re actually using the vehicle. Take Martin Tusler’s trip from just south of downtown to Ohio State.

“You’ve only paid for that drive time, from this instance from German Village to the university, maybe 10 to 15 minutes at 38 cents a minute, so you’re looking at somewhere around $4 and that’s a pretty good alternative to some other transportation,” Hill says.

That’s how the company hopes to grow its customer base; by emphasizing the economy of its product. There’s no monthly car payment, no insurance, no parking fees. Hill says he knows of customers who’ve gone from two cars to one and rely on CAR2GO on occasion.

According to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, 10 percent of Columbus households don’t even own a car. So there could be use from that demographic as well.

CAR2GO operates in 13 North American cities. Hill says Columbus was chosen for a variety of reasons.

car2go

“It has the 15th largest population in the country. Ohio State has 80,000 faculty, staff and students – 55,000 of those students on the main campus. A deceptively large young professional population, coupled with the university and a lot of business as well,” Hill says.

Studies of car sharing in the U.S. suggest the concept provides a number of transportation, land-use, environmental and social benefits. The Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California – Berkeley says that car sharing is already a factor in whether or not a car should be purchased.

Martin Tusler, the Ohio State employee from German Village says he’s pleased with his CAR2GO experience.

“I think the concept is great. I think it’s interesting that the university has decided to provide this space in a really prime location. Particularly if students are using them, you know, for quick trips and things like that, that means that the university doesn’t have to provide as much parking for them so there really are a lot of advantages both for the university. At least for me, personally, it’s an advantage,” Tusler says.

Comments
  • Marya

    Not to offend, but this piece seemed somewhat more like an infomercial than a piece of reporting.
    It would have been helped by addressing the following:
    How do these cars effect the efforts of Central Ohio Bicycling advocacy groups?
    Will they go on record?
    Do the cars have bike racks?
    What are the driver’s liabilities when using one of these cars>
    When are how are the cars fueled, and by whom?
    How far can a driver legitimately take a car?
    Who is responsible for bringing it back if the driver finds another way home (her bike, for example)?