Best Reasons to Never Own a Car or Hail a Cab

by Shilpi Paul


UrbanTurf usually stays away from publishing rankings or lists…except at the end of the year when we look back at the best that DC’s residential real estate scene had to offer during the previous 12 months. So, this whole week, we will be looking at not only the best, but the most intriguing and peculiar things that came across our radar over the course of 2012.

As DC’s density grows, car ownership is becoming more of a hassle. This year, two companies entered the city’s transit ecosystem, making it much easier to get by without having to own an automobile: Uber and Car2Go.

News about cars and their resulting complications comes across our desks often, whether in the form of a debate over how many parking spaces a new development should build or a community fighting to retain street parking for residents rather than visitors.

Cars are certainly becoming more controversial assets in the city. But while bicycles, the Metro and the bus system are viable options for many trips, sometimes, you just need the space and convenience of a car.

That’s where Uber and Car2Go have filled a need.

In October, our own editor-in-chief Mark Wellborn shared his Car2Go story. The rentable smart cars that can squeeze into improbably tiny parking spaces are becoming a more and more familiar sight on our streets and Mark, not a car owner, decided to try out membership.

Car2Go differs from Zipcar in several ways, all of which seem to facilitate more spontaneous trips: the cars are parked randomly throughout the area, you can pick one up within minutes of deciding to go somewhere (assuming one is in the vicinity), and all the trips are one-way, eliminating the need to backtrack. After 30 days with the service, Mark determined that, while there were issues, the company had found a winning strategy, and would be ubiquitous within a few years.

Sharing is certainly one answer to the car density problem. Instead of every resident owning a car that they use for one hour and park for 23, multiple residents having access to one vehicle will logically require less parking. Add to that the miniature size of these cars, and it’s no surprise that the idea has caught on.

Uber has also become quite ubiquitous over the course of the past year (they launched in DC in December 2011). The private car service is pricier than cabs, but has nonetheless caught on as a dependable alternative. Its main allure is this: Users can summon the black towncars using their smartphone (rather than take their chances hailing a cab on the street) and pay with a credit card already on file. For DC residents who have called taxis for rides only to be left waiting for hours, Uber’s dependability seems to have been worth the price.

Taxi drivers have been understandably daunted by the competition, and in many cities are putting up a strong fight trying to get local governments to outlaw Uber. In DC, however, Uber won an important battle: earlier this month, the DC Council voted to create a “Private Vehicle-for-Hire Innovation Amendment Act” essentially legalizing the company and giving them the ability to continue uninterrupted.

With these new options, will car ownership start to dwindle in the area? That’s a story for 2013.

See other articles related to: uber, car2go, best of 2012

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/best_reasons_to_never_own_a_car_or_hail_a_cab/6395

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