In New York City, even the vast mass transit network has its weaknesses. Mayor de Blasio’s public spat with Uber exposed a few of them, namely the challenges in outer borough transportation and increasing congestion when you try to solve them with ride-hail services.
Enter Car2Go, the car-sharing service featuring Smart cars from Mercedes parent Daimler, which expanded into Queens on August 29. The day before, Car2Go’s New York team was nice enough to give Autos Cheat Sheet a demo of the service in a ride from Queens to central Brooklyn, and (judging from the first look) there are several things suggesting the service is on the right track toward improving Big Apple transportation.
For starters, Car2Go offers one-way trips between places in the outer boroughs that are unprepared for the exploding population. Subways into Manhattan are accessible in nearly every neighborhood, but that forces some Queens and Brooklyn residents to go into Manhattan to travel between the boroughs — a textbook example of inefficiency and hampered mobility. Car2Go offers a Smart for hire at a cost that is usually cheaper than a Zipcar, Uber, or taxi to make the trip without worrying about parking.
Locating the car parked on the street through a smartphone app, Car2Go members get in and are charged by the minute (41 cents) or at $15 per hour and $51 per day, solid prices compared to anything. Gas and insurance are included. Parking is on the street in designated service areas for free though it assumes available spaces. (There are no reserved spots.) Here is where the diminutive Smart car offers an advantage over, say, a midsize car.
Smart cars, famous for appearing to be half a car, are five feet shorter in length than even a compact car, which makes them far easier to park in the city, especially away from the congested streets of Manhattan. At 36 combined miles per gallon and built for two, they also offer an improvement over the waste of a seven-seat, 24 mile-per-gallon Taxi of Tomorrow.
But unlike taxis, these Car2Go Smart Fortwos are built for the convenience of New Yorkers who have trouble connecting between subway stations or in parts of the city forgotten by mass transit. As the city continues to see its population expanding into more previously uncongested areas of Brooklyn and Queens, these cars would serve as a valuable bridge from the subway stop to homes in new developments. (A Car2Go spokesman noted activity is at its highest around subway stops.)
What Car2Go New York nails best is the one-way trip. With Zipcar and Enterprise car sharing, round trips are standard. This system offers a great deal more convenience while getting you more for your money. As for green impact and congestion, Car2Go’s tiny vehicles and solid fuel economy are commendable as well.
Put two people in every car and you have maximum efficiency in terms of customer value and transport emissions. With the simplicity of signing up and affordability of the service, we’d expect Car2Go to soon have far more than the 30,000 members it picked up since starting out in New York in 2014.
Just from these advantages we would consider Car2Go an excellent addition to the complex New York transportation system and maybe the best all-around service as far as car sharing is concerned. We’ll soon have more to report after running several tests of the service on our own.