Car2Go: less horrible, possibly useful

Car2Go seems to have fixed most of the problems that I mentioned in my previous post about their website and I was actually able to successfully use it recently. I was going to pick up my bike from the shop, and I had a time crunch because I had to be home by six. At 5pm, I checked for 17s and discovered that the usual 5:15-5:20pm 17 was nowhere to be found and the 5:00-5:05 had either already gone or was also nonexistent.

Fortunately, there was a Car2Go a few blocks away (one of them seems to have a ‘home’ near my work) and I was able to confirm it was there, update my account information (I had forgotten my PIN, never having used it) and start the drive at the car. I found the car maneuverable but not very powerful or responsive, and the GPS didn’t work at all to enter an address because it was too slow (I puzzled through the route-choice-for-driving myself, and did okay). Parking it on a side street by Metropolis was easy because it’s quite tiny. It was a perfect use for that trip, since I could ride my bike home from the shop. It was nice to finally get to use it when it was convenient and see what the fuss is about.I found it was fairly expensive — even with 15 free minutes, my trip (29 minutes because of traffic) cost over $5. So it’s not great in times of heavier traffic because you spend too much expensive time idling (time for congestion charging in downtown Portland, revenue to go to transit, plzkthx). I would rather have taken TriMet from a cost perspective, although the convenience of Car2Go was better.

As far as the website, some of their landing pages are still a bit useless, like http://portland.car2go.com/, but if you go to Car2Go.com you can easily select your city, see the map, and log in, which is a major improvement. The map is less painful to use, too — it groups cars when zoomed out and runs more smoothly when zooming in.

It looks like they’ve sorted out reservations by making them too simple to be really useful for advance needs — all they can do is ensure that a car will still be there in 30 minutes. It fits with the usage model, but it makes them useless if you need to get to an appointment that you know about a long time in advance and don’t have much flexibility with, because they could all be gone by then.

Overall, a great improvement. And they have an Android app now which looks like it would simplify the process even more, although I’ve basically maxed out my apps so I may not be able to install it until I get a new phone.