For all the good public transportation does for a city, getting stuck at a train station for an hour is a special kind of headache. In Brooklyn, though, there is a new transportation alternative for people looking to get from local point A to local point B, and it involves easy-to-park Smart cars.
Car2Go, a car rental service that originally launched in Austin four years ago, began operating in Brooklyn October 25. It works like this: 400 of the Smart cars will be sprinkled throughout the borough, up to Greenpoint and down to Coney Island. Drivers can rent a two-seater car by using Car2Go’s app to find the nearest vehicle and then flashing a plastic membership card over a reader on the car’s windshield. You can park the car pretty much anywhere it fits.
Unlike ZipCar, which requires an annual membership fee, Car2Go charges a one-time $35 signup fee (it’s free for now if you get in early). Then, rental rates are about 41 cents a minute. You can also rent hourly ($15/hour), or drive for a day for $85.
Brooklyn residents will likely find the rentable Smart cars most useful for getting to far-off destinations with limited transit options (Sunset Park for dim sum, maybe?), grocery store runs, or simply getting home when your local subway line is down. But because the cars are so small, they are less useful for, say, picking up a new bed frame on Craigslist or making a run to Ikea or Costco. And thanks to the service’s cost structure, it isn’t very practical for spontaneous road trips. (There is also a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving.)
I rode in one of Car2Go’s cars two weeks ago, and it certainly seems like a convenient transportation alternative, especially when it comes to squeezing into tight parking spots. Car2Go–which, in addition to Austin and Brooklyn, is also available in Vancouver and San Diego–says it has a robust data science team in place to constantly monitor the cars via GPS; after 100 days, the team will figure out where people use the service the most, and reposition the cars accordingly. A 24-hour team is already in place to help move the cars from low-demand areas, handle refueling and maintenance, and avoid parking tickets.