Car-sharing is the notion that low-car households can save money by owning fewer cars and instead renting autos by the hour or the mile. It was pioneered in 1998 by Car Sharing Portland, the first commercial car-sharing service in the United States.
The City of Portland was also the country's first local government to offer free on-street public parking spaces to car-sharing companies. This has since become a key subsidy supporting the commercial car-sharing business.
Car-sharing differs from car rental because it is designed and priced for relatively short errands and routine trips rather than long excursions. Car-sharing companies typically place cars directly in the community rather than at business locations. This makes it convenient for more people to use the cars on a day-to-day basis.
Car-sharing in Portland
- car2go - car2go is "an innovation that fits the Portland lifestyle as perfectly as dinner in The Pearl or a ride up Mt. Tabor."
- PickupPal - PickupPal provides a global presence on the Internet to intelligently connect drivers and passengers around the world, forming a new transportation marketplace.
- UCarShare, offered by U-Haul, has several locations around town. Because the service charges a low hourly rate plus a per-mile rate, it is best for people making very short trips.
- WeCar, offered by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, serves Oregon State University in Corvallis and the University of Oregon in Eugene. WeCar is a membership-based car sharing program for people who are looking for an alternative method of transportation that lowers the cost and reduces the hassles of traditional transportation.
- Zipcar, the successor to Car Sharing Portland, operates most of the shared cars in the Portland area. Zipcar promises "to bring the European car-sharing idea to North America. Once the wheels were in motion, it was only a matter of time before some major changes helped grow a little car-sharing company into the world's leading car-sharing network."
Future of car-sharing
Some companies, including Boston-based Relay Rides, are developing programs that would help people make money by sharing their cars with other people.