Relocating to Canada and settling in one of the major cities, you may be wondering if you really need to buy a car. Asking the question is already answering it: NO! Most Canadian cities have developed car sharing systems that make it a smart choice not to own your car, even for families with young children.
Jeanne B. is a French expat living in central Montreal. With husband Antoine, they walk their 4-year old Abel to daycare and take public transportation to drop off Anna, 6 years old, to school every day. But mostly, they use Communauto, Montreal’s car-sharing system, whenever they need a car, be it for the groceries, a trip to the sugar shack, a weekend in the Laurentians, or the occasional out-of-town business meeting.
“Even when the kids were younger, I would take the stroller with a built-in car seat and simply pick-up a car round the corner to do the groceries, she says. We didn’t want to go into all the trouble of buying a car without a credit history, or maintaining a car without trustworthy contacts, or spending all our money on gas, parking and insurance!”
Car-sharing: a ton of advantages
As J. Wilson Woods, original founder of Ottawa’s VRTUCAR puts it, car-sharing is:
“As EASY as hailing a cab,
as CONVENIENT as your own car,
as AFFORDABLE as a latte,
FASTER than renting, and
lets you KICK the CAR HABIT”
It’s a fact; car-sharing systems have a ton of advantages. To name only a few, car-sharing is:
- Environment-friendly: fewer cars on the road means less CO2 emission, less gas use, and makes cities nicer to walk and live in.
- Time-saving: stop using up your shopping afternoon looking for a space to park. Many car-sharing systems have reserved parking spaces even in the Downtown core. Quit spending your paid holidays at the mechanics or repair shop.
- Worry-free: forget about due dates for your car registration, or car theft, or snow tires. All administration, maintenance and owner’s worries are on the car-sharing company, not you.
- Money-wise: add up the costs of registration, fuel, insurance, maintenance, parking and normal devaluation of a car you own, you will soon understand why car-sharing makes you save money.
Car-sharing: how it works
Each car-sharing company has its idiosyncrasies, but in most cases, they are web-based, require that you register and book online, and offer flexible payment solutions, either per kilometre or per minute or hour. Generally, there are packages or unlimited use memberships, and you can sometimes combine your car-sharing and public transit passes.
Some companies require pre-booking, others allow for more spontaneous use. Sometimes you need to pick-up and drop off the car at the same designated parking lot, but not always. Learn more on the car sharing system operating in your city by clicking on the links below.
Car-sharing companies in Canadian cities
- In Montreal, you will find Communauto and Car2go, the former being the historical provider, with locations in all major cities in Quebec, and the latter being the newly implemented outsider.
- Inhabitants of Toronto can join the AutoShare or Car2go networks.
- In Vancouver, you will find Modo and Car2go.
- Calgary car2go is one of the only car-sharing systems in “oil province” Alberta, but it’s worth mentioning.
- In Ottawa, use VRTUCAR.
In addition to other inventive car-pooling solutions and improving public transportation networks, car-sharing systems make it easy and convenient for urbanites to opt for a car-free lifestyle. Ready for the change?
Photo credits: Photostock (FreeDigitaPhotos.net)