Who Shares?

Meet Doug (and Trina).

About his newly car-free household, Doug compares losing their only car to “diving into the ocean instead of wading in it.” The vehicle wasn’t totaled, nor was it undriveable by any means. But when the brakes started having problems on their 17-year-old Geo Prizm, Doug and his wife Trina decided it was time to start taking advantage of their CarShare Vermont membership rather than replace the master cylinder. Besides the $1,800 repair cost, the vehicle was only worth $700 and there was no way to know when the next major investment would be.

Doug first became interested in car-sharing back in 2001 when he served on Burlington’s City Council. As a member of the transportation committee, he was very supportive of bringing it to Burlington. He was thrilled when CarShare Vermont finally opened its doors in 2008. Doug and Trina have been members for a while. “I joined to support the concept even though I wasn’t quite ready to utilize it,” Doug explains. He wanted to make sure CarShare Vermont stuck around because he knew they would need it eventually.

And so the experiment begins, the car-free experiment that is. Doug is optimistic that they won’t have to change much about their lifestyle and looks forward to the challenge. He’s already walking or biking to work at RETN, choosing the former mode for a more reflective commute and the latter as a more suitable alternative to driving. And Trina regularly takes the bus to work at UVM. So far, Doug says, “CarShare Vermont has given me the confidence that I can get around the way I have been for the past eighteen years. The difference is that now I’m relying on “our car” instead of “my car.” Doug really values the community that comes with car-sharing. It allows him to live simply and efficiently, while remaining engaged. He also likes that CarShare Vermont is a local, membership-based group that he belongs to.

All tolled, Doug estimates that his trusty Geo Prizm was costing them about $2,600 a year. And that’s for an old car, long since paid off. With car-sharing, Doug says, “you have to remember you’re paying the true cost of driving.” When you own your own car, the true costs of driving and car ownership are easily overlooked.

Doug and Trina plan to use CarShare Vermont just as they did their own car, without depriving themselves of anything. This is especially important during blueberry season in Vermont. “The most important trip of the summer is the one to Willow Hill Farm for blueberry picking.” Doug even goes so far to say the if he couldn’t go blueberry picking, he wouldn’t have joined CarShare Vermont. Luckily, you can go anywhere you want to in a CarShare Vermont vehicle, so there’s no need to deprive yourself of your favorite Vermont experiences. Doug and Trina have already taken Nora blueberry-picking once and plan to go again before the season’s end. Aside from New York-style pizza, fresh blueberries are his favorite road trip snack.

The couple has been getting around without their personal car for about a month now. Doug says that he doesn’t really miss it. They just have a different fallback now. Where it used to be their Geo Prizm, now it’s CarShare Vermont. “CarShare Vermont is like a life preserver,” Doug says. They’ve jumped into the deep end, but so far, Doug adds, “the water is fine.”