2011.10.09-15.00.14My husband and I don’t own a car, and never have. We come from big cities, where public transport is very good, and now live in a small town, where you can reach everywhere you want (well, almost), by bike. So there never was the need. Occasionally we would rent a car, and if you don’t have all those extra costs for the car’s maintenance and gas, you become generous with calling a taxi.

Recently, however, I felt that I would like a car at my disposal, for the about three or four occasions a month when I really want one. So we have become members of a car-sharing pool. The pool maintains four cars in our town, one of which is stationed at a five-minute-walk distance from where we live. This car is a very small Kia, but it seats four and is big enough for our needs. As the pool is connected to others within Germany, Holland and Switzerland, we could get a car in many other towns after going there by train, if we wanted to. (We haven’t tried this yet.)

So far, car-sharing is great. With one exception, we have always been able to reserve the car when we wanted to. While it’s not a car I would like to drive on the motorway (the springs are not quite what they ought to be), it’s fine for the town and for shorter trips. I especically like to be independent at night, when there’s very few buses.

Rates are very reasonable. We pay $ 6 per month, and in addition there are fees for every hour ($ 2.50) or, alternatively, day ($ 25 for 24 hours), and for every kilometre ($ 0.28). This includes gas, insurance and all maintenance. So taking the car for getting to my book club, I pay about $ 13, which is great compared to the $ 22 I used to pay taking a bus and taxi.

On the other hand, if I just want to spend an evening in the town center, it’s still cheaper to get the bus there and a taxi back, instead of leaving the car in an underground garage for hours.

I know of nobody else who does car-sharing. Do you do it, or anyone else you know? What are your/their experiences?

– Rike Horstmann

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High school teacher. Soccer fan (Werder Bremen, yeah!). Knitter and book-binder. Devotee of mathematical puzzles. German.