My other car is a train

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I got my drivers licence at 27. Bought my first (and only) car at 33. It’s safe to say I’m not a car person, though I think my little blue Toyota Echo hatchback is cute and pragmatic, and am quite fond of reliable Azulito in an anthropomorphized way.  He even doubled for the Psych Blueberry one episode. Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t ditch him in a second if it were practical.

He’s 10 years old now and I’d started to think it might be prudent to consider a trade in before any major problems cropped up … until it occurred to me that maybe I just don’t need him or anyone like him anymore. I take the SkyTrain to work — it’s much more convenient and often faster than driving — and because I have the transit pass I use transit when it’s easy otherwise, too, like getting downtown without facing hordes of jaywalking pedestrians, one-way streets and expensive parking.

Unwilling to make the immediate leap to no car at all, I explored car sharing organizations. For the summer, every time I brought Azulito out, I’ve been considering how life would get more complicated if I were to give him up. I figured I’d use a car share to pick up my Little Sister and for some shopping trips and transit for yoga (assuming I actually go). No problem.

And then Azulita helpfully wouldn’t start one day when I was going to be lazy and take him to work, so I got to test the concept in practice. I had a Car2Go and Zipcar membership. It’s been a few weeks and I finally caved: I’m getting my car fixed tomorrow. The breaking point? The opportunity to go on a set visit in Aldergrove, with the option of a ride if I backtracked about an hour to go downtown from work first, or to get a Zipcar for the day … and I found I resented paying the daily charge when I actually only needed it for a few hours.

Because my biggest learning is that if your life extends outside Vancouver’s city boundaries — and I work in Surrey, fell in love with a yoga studio in Burnaby, and Big Sister events are sometimes far-flung — car share isn’t always convenient. Well, that and Smart Cars are fun little things but very clunky to drive.

I adore Car2Go for the right kind of trip: you can take them one-way, leave them, and pick up another one for the return trip if needed, only paying for the driving time ($14.99/hour, and both car shares include gas and insurance). There are always a couple parked on my block. But the zone where you can leave them doesn’t even encompass the entire city, and my Little Sister happens to live outside that zone.

Zipcar’s advertised rates are from $7.75/hour but the cars in walking distance from my home are over $12/hour, and there’s a small insurance fee per month or a very large deductible in case of damage that I didn’t see advertised before signing up. And again, because I’ll be in Surrey when I need a car, I’d need to pay for it starting from when I leave for work in the morning or backtrack nearly as long as I would to catch a ride.

I haven’t given up on the car share idea. I plan to continue using Car2Go for one way trips. I’m planning to check out Modo, whose rates seem more favourable than Zipcar and who have more cars closer to me (and are, incidentally, the car co-op I was going to sign up with before needing to buy a car for my job at the time). And I’m planning to get Azulito fixed so I can go to Aldergrove on Thursday and maybe a spontaneous trip to Trader Joe’s this weekend.

Azulito, I just can’t quit you. Yet.

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