Living in south Etobicoke for most of my life, I didn’t get my full drivers licence until my thirties. I simply never needed it, nor had the time, money, or access to a car that would allow it. I still don’t own a car. I do maintain a Zipcar membership, which allows me to have quick access to a variety of vehicles. It’s a luxury, but for me it’s worth it.

Recently, I received an email advertising their Commuter service, which promised unlimited use of a dedicated car between 5 am on Monday and 7 pm on Friday (including gas and insurance) for $249 plus $0.30 per km. I gotta say, with winter coming I was pretty tempted to consider it! This post will break down the deal and help me decide if it’s right for me.

Currently, I’m commuting by bike which is basically free. I put a little bit of money aside each month for bike maintenance, but so far I’ve only had one flat this year, which I patched myself. I can’t bike everyday and everywhere, so in August so far I have spend $30 on loading my Presto card. This works on local transit in several cities I visit and inter-city transit like GO. I also spent $51.10 on Zipcar, including member fee, insurance, and a 3 hour trip which was reduced because I had some credit on file.

I’d like to say I’ll bike all year round, but honestly I’ll be surprised if it make it into November. That leaves about 5 months of the year (November – March) where I am likely to depend on TTC (local public transit) for my travels. The TTC recently introduced 2 hour unlimited transfers, so I am wondering if I will bother with the unlimited pass, but let’s go with a cost of $150 per month for transit for the sake of this discussion.

Let’s break it down:

Public Transit

ZipCar Commuter

Transit Pass $150 Estimated cost, using their calculator (I added tax) $370
Zipcar Membership $11.30 Zipcar Supplemental Insurance* $10.17
Zipcar Supplemental Insurance* $10.17
1x per month 3 hour weekend trip $34.94
Total $206.41 Total $380.17
Intangibles Better for the environment, less stress about returning on time on Friday, will help me be thankful for a car when I am using one, about 15 minutes of walking added to my day. Intangibles Warmer and shorter commute, easier to get to the gym before work and more time at the gym, easier to run errands at night, leaving weekends free.
*Note on insurance: Zipcar membership includes insurance, but there is a $1000 deductible. Because I don’t have that money (risk averse!) I pay an extra $10.17 a month for no-deductible insurance. Once I have an emergency stash of that amount (beyond my 3 month living expenses goal), I will likely cancel the extra insurance. For now, it gives me great peace of mind.

 

It looks like if I went with the commuter option, I would be spending an additional $173.76 per month for some pretty nice luxuries, but luxuries nonetheless. Further, this assumes that one is able to purchase this option from month-to-month without a term commitment, something that isn’t covered on the website.

I can see how this option would be really tempting for someone who was looking to get rid of a personal vehicle, but for me it feels like dangerous lifestyle-creep. I think I’ll stick to my public transit for now.

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