The map is from the Zipcars website, showing Zipcar locations in Cambridge.
Anna has been a member of Zipcar for more than 5 years. She does not have a car of her own and uses a club car very often – about once a week. Usually it is just for a few hours, to go to a social event with an elderly friend. She also finds the van very useful, for moving furniture or taking stuff to the tip. If she needs a car for a long trip of a whole day or more, then a conventional hire car can work out cheaper.
There are several club car bays within 10 minutes of her home but it is not unknown for them to be all booked when she wants them. ‘You can’t expect to always get one at a moment’s notice. If I want one at the weekend I will book a few days in advance. If I want one in the evening I will book in the morning if I can. The app is very easy to use. You say what time you want the car and you can see a map of what is available and select the one you want. It is a matter of moments’.
Just once, in all the years that Anna has been using Zipcar, she went to pick up the car she had booked and it wasn’t there. Also, there has been one occasion when she was late back and could not extend the booking to cover the extra time. You get fined for being late back so if you are likely to have a problem, especially at the weekend, you should book an extra half hour to be on the safe side.
Anna confessed to me that she sometimes dreams of having a car of her own, because it would be so much more convenient than having to cycle to get the Zipcar, especially when it's cold and dark. But then again, she really does not want the hassle. ‘If I was to buy a car I couldn’t afford a good one and I would be forever having to get it fixed. With Zipcar, the cars are very reliable and if there is a problem there's a team of people to sort it out’.
[Ed: it sounds to me like we need a lot more cars, if the current ones are so frequently booked]
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