Streetcar: Driving On Demand (and great customer service)


I’ve just signed up for Streetcar, the driving equivalent of Software as a Service. Rather than have the capital expense of owning and running a car, you only pay for a vehicle as and when you need it ie as an operating expense.

Here are the main differences between normal car hire:

1. You can use the car for as little as 30 mins at a time. Costs start at £3.95 per hour.

2. An available car should be no more than 5 – 10 mins walk from your home or current location (in my case, I can walk to our nearest Streetcar in approximately 30 seconds – see picture above).

3. You can have one way trips ie you can leave the car at your final destination rather than return it.

4. You can call Streetcar’s service centre  for free from the car’s hands-free phone. You can also divert your mobile phone’s incoming calls to the car, and plug in your iPod to the car’s stereo.

You  pay £60 for a year’s membership – and then pay as you go after that. The sign up process was very swift and easy. They send you a smartcard which allows you to open up your chosen vehicle and then you key in your membership pin number to activate the car for driving – very clever.

For the typical urban commuter whose own car spends all week not doing anything except depreciating in value, the cost savings to be had by using Streetcar are quite compelling. They also offer a business version – replacing an owned fleet with Streetcars “without the fixed costs, depreciation and hassle. And if you don’t already have Streetcars right outside your office, Streetcar can even locate cars in your own office car park.”

I’ll report back later on how our driving on demand experiment goes.