Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Zipcar unclear on the concept?

Zipcar would have done wonders for my life during the time I spent in a small Western city where the buses stopped running at 8PM and there were lots of things worth seeing out beyond where the buses went. In New York it just seems bizarre, but then again it's bizarre that anyone would want to drive anywhere here, let alone actually own a car.

Be that as it may, if there's anywhere you might want a car handy, it would be Ikea. Especially since, unlike the sane furniture companies (Gothic Cabinet Craft, for instance), Ikea offers no reasonable delivery service. Judging by a quick Google search, there are several small businesses that do nothing but deliver furniture from Ikea. I solve that problem by simply buying my furniture at Gothic or some other reasonable place, but some people want to shop at Ikea.

It's not surprising that many of these Ikea shoppers would be Zipcar members, and therefore it seems reasonable that Ikea would reserve six prime parking spots at its new Brooklyn store for Zipcars.

Now, wouldn't it make even more sense to actually store the Zipcars in the Ikea parking lot? Sure, Red Hook is a schlep, and if you planned a furniture-buying trip you'd probably want to reserve a Zipcar ahead of time from a location close to you. But what about spontaneity? What if you were riding the B61 and decided to stay on for a few more stops and check out some furniture, or what if you planned a day of hanging out by the old docks and eating Swedish meatballs, but then, you decided you had to have that supper-classy LMAO bookcase, and it's much too big to fit on the bus. Wouldn't you want at least the possibility of calling up to see if there are any Zipcars available nearby? And don't they think that maybe they'd get some business from the projects as well, people who don't want to schlep over to Bond and Union?

I thought Zipcar was supposed to be all about convenience and spontaneity. This must be just a little too far to stretch their minds around.


Anonymous said...

You know, I joined a few months ago. I decided if I rent a car once a year in the region it's worth the money as they are way ahead of traditional rental agencies in convenience and technology. And they used to have cars at metro north lots, which made all the sense in the world, but apparently metro north has canceled that, giving the business to dusty old Enterprise instead (good luck picking up / returning a car to them at 10 pm).

I was sad to hear about the ikea spots too, as s.b. already has me primed to be mad about their parking lot. But I'm not sure it would be very useful to have cars there. The way it is, you are "spared" any transit trip if you can walk to your nearest zipcar, drive it to hellkea and park. They can't do one-way rentals, so if you are picking up the car there you would need to go back with it; it would be more travel overall.

Really I would rather they not associate themselves with the mess at all, and try to get back into train parking lots; otherwise I'm not likely to renew for a second year. I don't have any interest and very rarely a need for actual city driving, which seems to be their primary orientation even though their tech is perfect for completing trips from train stations outside the city. Oh this is super annoying I just found a quote on why metro north chose Enterprise: "it has offices close to train stations, offers hybrid vehicles, and has agreed to drive commuters to an office if an automobile is not available at the station." Yeah, zipcar has hybrids? And you don't have to be driven around to some decaying office? And you reserve so that a car is available when you need it? Awful, awful choice. Stupid. Zipcar would be smart to acquire cheaper, private spots (it is the burbs) within walking distance of train stations and bury Enterprise without metro north's permission.

mides@hunter.cuny.edu said...

Thanks for the post. I really can't bring myself to say anything positive about the new IKEA.

Cap'n Transit said...

Thanks for your posts, Mides and City. I saw an Enterprise key-drop at a Metro-North station last weekend, so that's how you return a car at 10PM: park it at the station and put the key in the drop.

I agree with you that it's silly for Metro-North to cancel the Zipcar contract. Why not do both?

Anonymous said...

"so that's how you return a car at 10PM"

Yeah, but you'll have to pay for the rental up to the time they open shop and retrieve the keys. That can make it more expensive than renting in the city, where they tend to stay open longer. I've done that annoying calculation more times than I would like.

And I agree they should do both, as you said, but I think I've found out why it's exclusive:

"Enterprise will provide rental cars that are directly available at 23 Metro-North stations and will compensate Metro-North with $40,000 annually, plus 10% of the program's annual revenue."

Ho hum. I don't mind Metro-North getting money in general, so I'll try not to look at it as corruption. But I do hope Zipcar routes around the arrangement by making their own arrangements with nearby garages; I'd certainly rather walk a few blocks than spend the same time listening to yet another damage-waiver sales pitch.

Lucky said...

my huge problem with zipcar, is they don't do one way rentals. I would think there are plenty of people who may need a car to get from point a to point b, not just from (A) to (B) to (A) again.

I assume for that reason, it doesn't make much sense to have zipcars at the ikea, because who'd want to have to return the car back to ikea and then take the bus back home?

Yury said...

For me IKEA is the only place I can buy furniture. I've been to so many furniture stores and all of them sell ugly and too fancy bs. Thank IKEA for being the only store in the US who sells European Style furniture.