This past November faced with escalating repair, insurance and gas costs along with the frustration of having to dig a car that I only used once or twice a week out of the snow bank I decided to retire my old Honda Accord and go car free. My experience being car less was overall a great one. I saved a bunch of money from the running costs and didn’t have to dig anything out of a snow bank, however there were a number of occasions where I found myself wishing that I still had access to four wheels and a trunk. Trips to the grocery store being a perfect example. Sure as a student delivery is only five bucks from my local IGA but what if I wanted to go someplace else, take for example the local food wholesaler: Aubut, sure it isn’t far from my house but carting home a ten pound bag of rice on my head wasn’t exactly good for my back.
So this year armed with my tax return I decided to take the plunge and join the local car sharing service Communauto. This made in Quebec care sharing company has been around since its creation in 1994 in Quebec City by Benoît Robert and it is the oldest car sharing service in North America. In 1995 it established itself in Montreal as a private business.
The Communauto website lists itself as ‘A different kind of car use’
Communauto provides its members with exclusive access to its vehicles. By becoming a Communauto subscriber, you gain access to a fleet of cars that you can reserve at low cost for a half-hour, an hour, a day or longer, according to your needs. Located in the heart of your neighbourhood, the cars are available without delay, 24/7.
Communauto pays all the costs related to the normal operation of the service: vehicle purchasing, financing, registration, insurance, repairs and maintenance, as well as all administrative costs… and even gas! No more surprise repair bills! Communauto takes care of everything!
I signed up for Package C as I have only ever been an occasional car user and went to the orientation. I found the process all very convenient though as an anglophone I had to wait an extra couple of weeks to get an appointment with a English speaking orienter. My favourite moment of the whole process was when I we were discussing the rates, $35 annual membership fees which included insurance with a 500$ deductible. The orienter then mentioned that I could get a zero deductible for 40$ more. Being used to regular insurance rates I asked if that was a per month fee to which he replied, nope thats annual. $70 for a year member ship with no deductible insurance? Having paid $50/m for occasional driver insurance with a $500 deductible I was impressed. Joining Communauto was going to save me $530 per year on insurance alone!
Now a couple weeks into my membership I am impressed and happy, the per mile rates are low and I expect to see my monthly bill around 25$ per month with gas included. The only down sides I have seen so far are that the website is terrible is you are trying to book a car using a black berry. The java keeps getting in the way and I often have to give up and either find a computer to do it or cave and call in to do my booking. The only other thing that I find frustrating is some of my fellow users. Most of the cars still have that new car smell, but you can tell when you have gotten into one after someone with a dog, more on that in future posts!
I have to say though, a couple weeks in and I am a convert. Car sharing is the way to go!