Carsharing in Victoria: 5 Things That Surprised Me
Guest post by Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria. Read more of Mayor Helps’ blog posts here!
Having lived car-lite for many years, the idea of no longer owning a car was not daunting. With my car sold and my Modo membership in hand, I’m ready to walk, bike, transit and sometimes drive to meet my transportation needs. But with change comes new circumstances and we can’t always prepare for everything. Since joining Modo, I’ve thought about five things I was not ready for when it comes to carsharing in our city.
1. The size of Modo’s fleet
Spotting a Modo in Downtown Victoria is no rare occurrence but until I looked at the map of cars for my own bookings, I realized how quickly Victoria had adopted carsharing. It’s encouraging to see the appetite for sustainable transportation, as well as shared vehicles spread out from Downtown to our neighbours in Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Saanich.
2. Planning ahead
Some people may only think of a timeframe when I say “planning ahead” but when you’re carsharing, it involves a few more steps to save yourself some hassle. For example, if I’m making a trip to drop off my recycling, I prefer to take a larger vehicle like the pick-up truck in Fernwood. Since that’s a popular vehicle, I’ll try to book it a few days in advance. I also add a little extra time to my booking just in case I’m caught up in traffic—being late when you’re carsharing can impact other members who’ve booked your vehicle. These aren’t complex considerations but they’re important and keep carsharing fair and equitable for all members.
Though I mentioned the minor restrictions carsharing has in terms of timing, Modo truly offers flexibility for its members. The variety of vehicles, availability, as well as booking duration make carsharing easy. For example, in December we have so many people coming to do their holiday shopping downtown. In order to be part of the solution and keep parking spaces open for those who need them, I and other Modo members, can book a car the evening we’re doing shopping to take all our gifts home. And we get to keep the car until the morning for a 2.5 hour flat rate!
You might say that owning a vehicle would be the most convenient transportation option and it is in some ways. Being able to hop in your own car to make a spontaneous trip up island is great but the convenience of carsharing is more than that. The constant need for refuelling and maintenance is not on your mind—that’s included in your membership. Couple that with the insurance coverage that Modo offers, and all we have to do is book and drive. I would say that’s convenience.
5. It doesn’t feel like I’m “car-free”
Though I’m no longer a car owner, I still feel as though I have a car readily at my disposal. This past weekend, I needed to go the the Sikh Temple for a celebration. It’s up a big hill and cold outside. I opened my Modo app and found a car available just around the corner in the time I needed it.
For my friends who’ve been long-time Modo members, they’ve said on numerous occasions that they still have all the perks of vehicle ownership. While we still need to rely on cars for some trips, it’s exciting to see a shift away from private-ownership to a carsharing organizations like Modo, and many more around the world. In a city like Victoria, the impact of vehicles on our roads is evident. By taking the initial steps to reduce my reliance on privately-owned vehicles and embrace all modes of alternative transportation, I see great benefits for our neighbourhoods, our region as a whole and the long-term health of the planet.