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Zipcar Vs. City Car Share: The Battle Royale by:Jeremy Ambers

Zipcar Vs. City Car Share: The Battle Royale by:Jeremy Ambers
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I've had a recurring conversation, with many people, about the two Community Car Share companies in South of Market. Which one is better? Which one is cooler? Which one should I use?

Everyone seems to have their own opinion, but I've been wondering which of the two is better based solely on facts about each. I've spent this morning compiling all of the necessary data, and the results are in...

The following information is based on both Zipcar and City Car Share's basic 1 year membership plan for residents of South of Market. The information I have compiled is for SOMA only. They both offer additional plans for more frequent users, students and businesses. For more information on those, you can check out their websites.
Zipcar Vs. City Car Share: The Battle Royale by:Jeremy Ambers
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Membership Fees: Advantage Zipcar

Both Zipcar and City Car Share have 'application fees' as well as annual or monthly fees. Zipcar has a $25, one time application fee, and charges $50 for a one year membership commitment. City Car Share has a $30, one time application fee and charges $10 per month with no commitment. That means that for the first year, CCS will cost $150 just to be a member, while Zipcar is only $75. Unless you're only looking to be a member for a month or two, it makes more economical sense to go with Zipcar.

Amount of Available Cars: Advantage Zipcar

There are 125 Zipcars located throughout South of Market. City Car Share has only 25.

Types of Cars Available: Advantage Zipcar

Both companies have very similar vehicles in their fleet. City Car Share offers a slightly more 'environmentally friendly' selection. Nearly 33% of their cars are hybrid's that get over 40 mpg. However, in terms of variety, Zipcar takes the pie. They have all the cars that CCS offers, as well as a number of others including two different types of BMW. Of course, if you want to drive around impressing everyone in a beamer, it'll cost you. Those are the cars that cost $13.50 per hour. Hey, you gotta spend money to look good!

Location of Cars: Advantage Zipcar

City Car Share currently offers 15 different locations throughout South of Market, while Zipcar has 34 from which to choose. You can view all of the different locations for both Car Locations HERE.

Hourly Rate: Advantage City Car Share

I'm not entirely convinced that the advantage should go to City Car Share, but based on just reserving a car for one hour, CCS offers 24 of the 25 cars in SOMA for $5 per hour, and the other one for $7. Most of the Zipcar vehicles are $8.75 per hour, with a couple that were $7.o0, and a few at $13.50.

However, Zipcar offers 180 miles free with your reservation while CCS charges $.40 per mile, so if you reserve a car for 3 hours through CCS, and drive 180 miles, it would cost you $87 while the same rental through Zipcar at $8.75 per hour would cost you $26.25. Ultimately, it depends on what you're renting the car for. If you're just going down the street to Trader Joes, you'll save money using CCS, but if you're doing a 3 hour relay to Sacramento and back, you may want to go with Zipcar.

Ease of Reservations: Advantage City Car Share

Both companies have a very simple online reservation system that allows you to reserve cars in realtime. However, the slight advantage goes to City Car Share because they allow you to reserve cars in 15 minute increments while Zipcar gives you 1/2 hour blocks.

Additional Fees: Advantage Neither

Both Car Sharing companies have a number of extra fees. The good news is that if you're a responsible driver, and you take care of your reservations as well as the vehicle while it's under your control, you'll be alright. Most of the fees have to do with negligence on your part. For instance, if you return the car dirty with excessive pet hair or odors, bith companies charge a $50 fee.

They also have fees if you fail to cancel your reservation within a certain amount of time. The timing varies based on the length of your reservation, time of cancellation before the reservation begins, etc. The bottom line is don't return the car dirty, low on gas or broken, and always remember to cancel your reservation in a timely manner. If you get an added fee, it's your own fault!

Overall: Advantage Zipcar

I honestly have to say that I think it's a no brainer. Zipcar is just too big and excessively available that they take the prize of best Car Sharing Company in South of Market. I'd love to side with the Nonprofit City Car Share, however they just don't have the car power or availability to compete. Not to mention they cost $70 more per year just to be a member!

In an effort for full disclosure, I've been a member of Zipcar since 2006. When I moved to South of Market and discovered City Car Share, I looked into whether it would be more beneficial to join their service, or even to be a member of both. It's been my experience with Zipcar that they not only have cars within a block from my apartment, but they've yet to not have a car available for me when I need it, even at the last minute. Therefore, I have no incentive to switch or add CCS. It'd just be an added expense. What do you think?

About the author

LiveSOMA.com is a website for the South of Market Neighborhood. Updated daily with local reviews, opinion and commentary provided by staff and guest writers covering everything that's going on in the neighborhood. The goal of LiveSOMA is to provide the community with a comprehensive directory of most known businesses in the neighborhood, including photos, reviews and contact information. It's also a place for all members of the community to share, comment and strengthen the overall 'living experience' in one of the premiere, up and coming neighborhoods in San Francisco.

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Zipcar Vs. City Car Share: The Battle Royale by:Jeremy Ambers Ashburn