Autoshare’s Autounlock Auto-tastic!

by Ben
Sorry for the awful title, I couldn’t resist. Auto-standing was a close second.  In any case, I wanted to share a couple of observations related to my ongoing use of Autoshare.

First, I’m pretty pumped that Autoshare will be rolling out a brand-spanking new vehicle access system.  Replacing our current key/lockbock system will be a credit-card sized access card and a transponder on the vehicle.  Keys will now be kept in the car.  From Autoshare:

Technology Transition Reminder

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we will begin rolling out a new vehicle access system in February, initially in about 15% of our vehicles. The following things are part of this initiative:

  • There will be a one-time “KeyCard” charge of $4 when the cards are mailed.
  • We will be mailing everyone a new “KeyCard”, an electronic security access card about the size of a credit card. You will need to carry this card AND your lockbox key to use our service. (We hope to have this finished within 12-18 months).
  • We will install and release the new Vehicle Management System in about 15% of our vehicles.
  • Your new “KeyCard”  will be used to access those vehicles that have been upgraded, by holding it up to a reader in the windshield. The car key will be in the vehicle, and you will not need to access a lockbox for these vehicles.
  • We will be running both the new “KeyCard” system and our current “lock box” system until all of our cars have been equipped with the new system.
  • Eventually, this system will provide excellent reservation improvements, like in-car extensions and ‘instant reservations’ at any vehicle.

Now, while this isn’t new technology (e.g., Australia or Ireland), it is a sign of car sharing maturing in Canada.  Since I’ve been a member of Autoshare (1.5 years or so) they have invested a good deal of time and energy in revamping their website, improving their online reservation system, rolling out a nice mobile reservation site, alongside continual fleet expansion.  So, this is just one more step in the quest to broaden the circle of people who can adopt car sharing as a viable option to owning a personal car.

The second point was to relate the interesting ebb and flow of my Autoshare usage.  Upon first moving to Toronto my wife and I decided to sell our car and go car free.  One reason for this was the fact that we had two Autoshare cars literally in our backyard (well, back parking lot).

Initially we were using a car at least once a week, invariably on weekends for those trips we just had to make to get cat litter in bulk or buy 25 gallons of toothpaste.  Not surprisingly, we started to realize the benefit of these bulk purchases was far outweighed by the aggravation of driving.  Over the past year we’ve gone from once a week, to twice a month, to the point now where it is rare if we get a car in a month.

And have we missed our vehicle?  With a cargo minivan available just around the corner, and a snazzier sedan there as well, our needs are pretty well covered whenever a car is unavoidable.  Living in Toronto, however, I’ve found those situations becoming less frequent.  The only downside?  When I do drive now I become a 78 year old man, hunched over the wheel, driving just below the speed limit and yelling at people to slow down and watch for bikes.

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3 responses to “Autoshare’s Autounlock Auto-tastic!”

  1. Mike says :

    You’ve officially become the person I yell at for going too slow and not knowing how to drive…tsk tsk Ben

  2. jimsey says :

    What, no mention of Chicago’s programs? Far as I know all of them utilize the no-keys approach. To further drive home my point, I present the transit pass that doubles as a car-share smart card: http://www.igocars.org/how/chicago-card-plus-i-go-card/

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