RelayRides: The Car Matchmaker

Getting rid of one’s car is like breaking up with someone. At first you notice a huge void in your life. Things seem unsettled for a while, like something’s missing. With few exceptions I’ve had a car since I was sixteen years old. The feeling of not having one took some getting used to. I got rid of it since I simply wasn’t using it enough. Living in the city doesn’t require a lot of driving. It’s faster to walk to the store, gym, bank, and anywhere else I’d like to go. If I’d like to get out of the city I can bike, use the metro, or take the bus. It’s nice to not worry about driving, parking, or any of the headaches associated with owning a car.

It’s been well over six months since I handed the keys to someone else. In all that time the situation never arose where I needed a car. That is, until last weekend. Someone was selling a certain item I’ve been searching for and they were about an hour away. I checked the bus and train schedule. Combined it added up to three hours transit each way. Fortunately I was able to bribe a friend with dinner to make the trip with me.

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Of course I could be signed up to one of those rent a car services for city folks. Seeing as how I never needed a car I hadn’t gotten around to it. Plus, there’s a registration fee which I didn’t see the point in paying for. When you think about it these rent a car services both solve a problem and create a new one at the same time. The problem they solve is people can rent a car when they need it, but these services put entire fleets of cars throughout the city. These eat up the already scarce supply of parking spaces. What if you could rent the cars that are already there? Such as you neighbor’s car. It turns out that you can, with RelayRides. It’s a service that allows neighbors to rent cars from each other.

The way it works is if someone’s an owner of a vehicle they can register as such. For everyone else they’re borrowers. Owners will enroll their car and then be scheduled for a brief installation of RelayRides’ in-vehicle computer. It’s a device that controls your ignition and locks so only approved RelayRiders can drive the car. Once set up the owners can select the schedule and set their rates. Once that’s all set up then RelayRides will begin renting out the car with no further intervention from the owner. Checks will arrive in the mail at the end of the month. It also comes with a one million dollar insurance policy in the event of an issue.

For borrowers they can register for free. In fact, it currently comes with a $25 credit to get you started. That would have easily helped me through my car shortage the other day. Part of the registration process requires submitting your driving record for approval. Since RelayRides manages the renting of other people’s vehicles they ensure all people entering their system are safe drivers. Once approved you’re free to schedule and rent cars. The website will show you the cars closest to you. You can pick the one you want based upon location, price, or style. Cars can be reserved for as little as an hour, or as long as several days. Gas and insurance are included in the hourly rate which starts at $5/hr. When you reserve a car all that’s left to do is find it with the directions provided and use your membership card with the a sensor on the car to unlock the door. Keys will be inside.

RelayRides solves a common problem with a creative solution. All over the crowded city people can’t find places to park. We don’t need any more cars here since they only make things more congested. At the same time, the vast majority of vehicles are underutilized. They just sit there, sometimes for weeks on end. RelayRides provides the obvious and ingenious solution by matching those that need cars with those that have them. It’s the preferred and cheapest way to get a vehicle when you need one.

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