Car Shares

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Carseat to use in a car share

Jan 2010

I am a new parent with a 6 month old. To save money (and the environment) we have been getting by without owning a car and instead are using the car share. I am looking for recommendations for a convertible car seat that is: 1. easy to install 2. relatively lightweight (I will be carrying it and the baby to the car share) 3. currently available for purchase 4. not too expensive Any thoughts on features that are important for an occasional car seat user would be appreciated. Also any recommendations on using the car share with kids would be appreciated. jessica

We have the Graco My Ride 65 for our nanny's car and it's great. We too wanted one that was light and easy to install as we also use it for when we travel - and it works great. It is kind of large, but feels much lighter than the Britax we have in our car. It is easy to install. I wish we had just gotten two of the Graco's rather than the Britax. It's not a pretty, but seems like a very good carseat, my son seems more comfortable in it, and it was around half the price. jaia

Availability of cars in City Car Share?

May 2007

We are thinking about selling one of our two cars and using City Car Share when we need another car. Has anyone had good or bad experiences with City Car Share? Our main concern is availability. Thanks! Miranda

While this part of the website is not advertised, you can see which City CarShare vehicles are available right now over at That will give you an idea of what your chances are of getting a car with no notice. Of course the longer in advance you reserve, the better. Except for long Friday and Saturday trips, usually the night before is plenty. If you BART partway you have an even wider selection of cars to choose from. -Bryce (a City CarShare employee and parent)

City CarShare versus ZipCar - opinions

Oct 2006

My husband and I are looking at joining either ZipCar or City CarShare. We would use the service mostly for full-day work-related trips. ZipCar appears to be a bit cheaper for us, while City CarShare has more cars in Berkeley and (in theory) may be less apt to run out. We'd appreciate any info that would help us decide. Thanks! Kate

Congrats on thinking seriously about carshare. Having said that, I can say that in my experience, it ain't cheap. I belong to City Carshare and use mostly the pod at El Cerrito Plaza. Problems: even with the larger number of pods/cars, they do run out. Reserving ahead of time is a must if you have to have a car. $4/hour + mileage usually equals about thirty dollars a trip for me, and those are not full-day or long-distance trips. Add a bit more if you have to take BART to get to your pod. And there are fees if you change your reservation after a certain time, drop the car off late, etc. I don't know if Zip is that much cheaper. I think the carshare option is great if you don't own a car and need one occasionally. It's not so great as a regular use thing.
my two cents

I've been a member of citycarshare for a while. I talked to some folks at zipcar. The main difference is that ccs charges $4 per hour 44cents/mile, while zipcar charges something like $8.50 per hour, no mileage. And I think zipcar doesn't require a deposit, while ccs does have a $300 deposit. (it's a deposit that you get back not a ''fee'' like the zipcar reps will claim). I think zipcar has cars in other cities you can use too, so if you travel a lot to large cities that have zipcars it might be worth it. I've got to tell you though that the one thing that keeps our ccs trips short is the hourly charge, not the mileage. Trying to visit friends in the east bay with a $4 per hour charge hanging over your head does make you want to cut things short. It would be twice as bad (literally) with and $8.50 charge.

Another option may be a local rental car agency that you can make a long term arrangement with for an ongoing daily rental - you could try Rent a Relic on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. They are only a few minutes form BART and are flexible and customer service oriented. You can make reservations online or via telephone at 510-601-6560

I am a City CarShare employee, a BPN list member, a parent, and a City CarShare member as well. You mentioned ''full day trips''. City CarShare's rate structure is set up for part-day trips, so multiple people share the same car during a day. For longer trips, City CarShare members are offered discount codes with Enterprise. I can also personally recommend the Avis location in downtown Berkeley, especially for weekend rates (but the cars there always smell of cigarette smoke).

Another list member mentioned high charges. We found that the average member spends about $5.60 per hour (averaging miles and hours). For occasional use, as a second car, or as a backup option for a regular public transit user, that's really quite cheap. You'd be hard pressed to average the cost of owning a car (or extra car) over time, and come anywhere close. Part of the ''point'' of City CarShare is to charge per hour and mile, so the cost of driving is visible and variable, rather than long forgotten. Car Share rates include roadside support, insurance, gas, etc.

If you're worried about availability, check out . You can get a live map of cars available right now. Most people reserve just before driving: if you plan ahead at all, you almost always get your first choice, especially on weekdays before 6pm Bryce

I am a City Carshare (CCS) member but I looked into zipcar when it became available in the bay area. I think zipcar is much more expensive the CCS, even for all day trips. It depends on your usage patterns, but here is my analysis...

For short trips, CCS's hourly fee is less than half of zipcar ($4 vs $8.75) and the 125 free miles zipcar includes would hardly make up for that big a difference.

For daylong trips, zipcar has the advantage that they have daily rate ($65) whereas CCS will charge you by the hour. CCShas a nighttime rate of $2 per hours (10 PM to 10 AM) so a 24 hour reservation would be $72. But for $65 a day, you could get over 16 hours of citycarshare usage. How many of your day trips would exceed 16 hours? There is the mileage charge on CCS too but I bet any trip shorter than 12 hours would be cheaper with CCS.

If you need a car longer than a day, renting is much more affordable. Of course, it isn't as convenient as CCS or zipcar, but this is what we do if we need a car for longer than 12 hours.

CCS does have a monthly fee ($10) whereas zipcar has a yearly fee ($50), so that is cheaper on zipcar, a savings of $70 a year.

CCS has been in the bay area longer and has more pods and more cars, so I think they still have the advantage over zipcar in terms of availability.

Zipcar does have some discounts for heavy users. Basically, if you commit to a monthly minimum ($50, $75, $100 etc) you get a discount on the hourly and daily rates. I guess if you are using it a lot, you'd have to factor this into the analysis, but most carshare users don't use the cars this much.

I think you will get the most use out of whichever carshare organization is the most convenient for you. If one or the other happens to be closer to your home or closer to where you will be needing a car, they are probably the better choice for you, but I still think CCS is cheaper and better Chris

Have you tried City Car Share?

Oct 2005

I am intrigued by City Car Share and would like to hear about the experiences of those who have used it, both positive and negative. I would be using it primarily in Berkeley. Thanks Linda

I LOVE city carshare! We use it in San Francisco. We hadn't owned a car for a long time but when we got pregnant decided to join citycarshare to make shopping trips a bit easier. I also use it when I have to go to work during off hours.

It is very easy to make reservations on line. There's only one pod within walking distance of my house so I try to plan trips about a week in advance, especially if it's a Saturday shopping day. We use it primarily for going to Costco, or if we have to go to Ikea, or if we need to buy something big like a vacuum cleaner. Since the fees include gas and insurance it is perfect for running errands around town, or going to visit friends who are far away from public transit. It would be quite expensive for day trips, so if we want to drive out of town we'll rent a car for a day. Some car rental companies (City Rentacar is one) will give discounts to City Carshare members.

Honestly, if we had to buy our own car, we would never be able to live in San Francisco on what we're making now. Since there is no parking available where I work, I wouldn't be able to commute by driving anyway, so I'd be paying some $500 per month for a hunk of metal sitting in a parking garage most of the time just for the luxury of not having to plan ahead. Erica

We've been City Car Share members for a couple years now, ever since the Piedmont Avenue pod opened. We are a one-car family, and can usually juggle that, but once in a while, we need access to a second car. For our needs, CCS has been a real boon. I would say that it's useful to be near to a couple pods (we also use the Rockridge and Oak Grove pods), in case the car you want is checked out when you want it. It's not cheap on a per-use basis, but a LOT cheaper than owning a second car for occasional use. For a single person or childless couple, living near a pod, or for a family hoping to avoid the purchase of a second car, CCS is great. And it's nice to have access to a pickup truck, too! Wendy

I was a member of City Car Share (although we lived in SF at the time) for about 6 months. It was great! It seems kind of expensive although at least you save on car ins. I would want to either live or work within walking distance of one of their parking lots though, otherwise it wouldn't really work. Karen

I live in Oakland and have been a City Carshare member for a few years. It is easy to use and the customer service is very good. There are more and more pods and more and more varieties of vehicles so it is increasingly convenient over time. It is good for errands and appointments around town, but for driving from, say, Oakland to Palo Alto, it is more cost-effective to rent a car. kw

July 2003

Has anyone out there had experience with City Car Share? We are thinking of joining in lieu of buying a second car, and I would welcome tales of people's practical experiences: how you use it, drawbacks, availabiity of cars when needed etc. Thanks. Wendy

I was a member of City Car Share for a year before I met my partner (who has a car). I had been living car-free for about 7 years. It's an excellent service, very efficient and well-run. They are continuously upgrading the service, adding more cars and pods. It's great for errands around town and such, but not for long trips. You can't be as spontaneous with Car Share, because you need to reserve the car in advance and there are penalties if you don't bring the car back in time. But if you are willing to take a little extra time to plan your driving expeditions, it's a great way to get around town and avoid annoyances like repairs, maintenance, insurance etc. I highly recommend City Car Share.