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Personal experience: how to survive in the USA without your own car

“Look at the car we drove through the vineyards in California,” an American colleague showed me photographs of a brand new red Porshe 911 that he and a friend rented on vacation. - I have long dreamed of riding one! Hear how the motor sounds! ”

Photo: Shutterstock

I asked how they found such a “dream car”, and it turned out that on the site of short-term car rental (car sharing). There the owners offer to rent their cars. Often, this way of finding a car is cheaper and easier than in large car rental companies.

Thanks to such services, if you don't have your own car, life becomes easier. Especially in the United States, the “country of motorists,” where public transport is underdeveloped compared to Europe. Young people who live in big cities still choose this way of renting a car.

Leasing is a cross between a loan and a lease. You drive a new car and pay several hundred dollars a month for it, without having to make a down payment, such as when buying on credit. But after two or three years, you can return, or buy a car. This option in the United States offer car dealers.

Advantages: you always drive a new car, and it most likely still has a guarantee from the manufacturer, so you will pay less for maintenance.

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Disadvantages: there are restrictions on the number of kilometers that can be driven on such a car per year. And you need to return the car in almost perfect condition - you will have to pay extra for scratches.

Short-term car rental Peer-to-peer, that is, “person to person”, for example, Turo is an opportunity to rent a car from its owner, without intermediaries. If in a traditional car rental company the choice of a brand or class of car is significantly limited, then through a short-term car rental you can choose a specific brand, year of car production and read people's reviews about this car or about its owner. For a relatively small amount, you can even order something truly exotic.

Advantages: often low rental and insurance costs, as well as the opportunity to negotiate with the owner about the place where you pick up and return the car.

Disadvantages: unlike large companies, private owners can give cars not in perfect condition or limit the distances that can be traveled.

Short-term car rental Zipcar, Car2Go - is the ability to rent a car in the company for a short time with payment per minute or hourly. You can open the car with your smartphone, and leave it either in special parking lots or just park on the side of the road (depending on the company).

Advantages: if the trip is a short distance, say to the store, then it can be cheaper than renting a daily apartment, or more convenient than a taxi. Here, the cost of gas is included in the rent.

Disadvantages: taking a car in this way for a long time is not profitable, and there are relatively few such cars in the city, and if you need it, it just might not be in the right place.

Karpul is actually when strangers give you a lift. Passengers and drivers get to know each other thanks to special applications, such as Waze, or passengers are simply picked up in special places. This is beneficial because for vehicles with two or three or more passengers, often there are dedicated lanes. Therefore, if you are not traveling alone in a car, you can avoid a significant number of traffic jams.

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Advantages: an alternative to public transport for passengers who live outside the city and have to make several transfers, and drivers who can use special lanes on paid roads for free and avoid traffic jams.

Disadvantages: dependence on other fellow travelers.

Ride Sharing is an option in the taxi services Uber (Pool) and Lyft (Share), when during your trip they can pick up and drop off other passengers. The application algorithm is looking for people who are traveling in the same direction as you. You can be picked up or dropped off literally in the same place as your companions, but sometimes the driver has to go back or do extra maneuvers, picking up people, which significantly lengthens the path.

Advantages: sometimes significant savings on the cost of the trip.

Disadvantages: the trip can take much longer, so this option is not suitable if you are in a hurry on a train or plane.

But such options are possible only in large urban agglomerations. In rural areas in the USA, most often you can’t do without at least one car for every adult in the family, because there is practically no public transport there. Therefore, the United States remains the third country in the world in the number of cars per capita - up to 800 cars per 1000 people.

The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service “Voice of America”.

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