Friday, April 15, 2011

Divorce your car - then keep one as a mistress

Yes, there are times when I need a car. In fact, I need one quite regularly. But not every day.

I use a car to go shopping - a family of 4 with 2 hungry teenage boys requires more food than I can stuff in my bike panniers. So we're members of Modo, the entity formerly known as the Co-operative Auto Network. Modo's a locally owned and operated not-for-profit co-operative. And yes, they are self-sustaining - they don't rely on grants, gifts, or fundraising to keep afloat.

Modo allows you to rent a car for as short as 30 minutes. You pay by the hour and by the kilometer - insurance, gas, maintenance are all included in the price. You book online, and then go to the car to pick it up. All Modo members have an electronic fob which lets them into the car. You return the car to where you picked it up.

Modo has quite a few different models, including some minivans and even trucks. There's a Mazda 3 a short distance from our house, plus a Modo car at almost every SkyTrain station in New West and Burnaby. So if the one closest to us is booked, we've got alternatives. Apart from my weekly shopping trips, we've used Modo cars for weekend trips to Manning Park or further afield. Actually, renting a car from Enterprise or Avis for longer trips is a bit cheaper, but it's so much more convienient to be able to just walk down the hill and not have to do any paperwork - just fob in and drive off - that we've even used Modo for extended vacation rentals.

We've been members since 2003, when the first car appeared in New West. It works really well for us, we've not missed the clunker 1985 minivan we kicked to the curb the minute Modo came to town. I find owning a car to be more headache than it's worth...but then, I'm not the type who sees my car as personal road jewelery. For me, the thing is an expensive appliance.

So Modo's a good fit for us - and it saves us a LOT of money. I figure, for $3000/yr we've got the whole car thing covered. That's all included - gas, parking, insurance, cleaning, maintenance...for this, I get to drive a car that's less than 4 years old.

Hard to beat!

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