Still actively discouraged from taking the bus, I had the opportunity to try out Gig car share recently. While the overall experience won’t surprise any Car2Go/ReachNow/ShareNow user since they ditched the smart cars, there are a few changes that might give the venture a chance where others failed.
Finding a car on the app has a similar interface to the old apps. You can reserve it up to a half hour before your trip starts. I had several cars to choose from within easy walking distance in the Volunteer Park area. It was a much less frustrating experience that my past troubles in the Columbia City Station area, but that could be a function of geography and the pandemic.
The experience is entirely keyless. Everything is done with the app, but you can ask for a keycard if you don’t have a smartphone.
All 250 cars are Toyota Prius. This is Seattle, so you’ve all ridden in a Prius before.
The base rate is $1 plus 40 cents per minute, with hourly, 8-hour, and daily caps of $15, $55, and $85 respectively. $1 plus $1 for every 2 or 3 additional minutes/miles seems to be sweet spot for all of these “sharing” services (bikeshare, carshare, rideshare). You probably won’t save very much money picking any one of these over the other, so pick what suits you.
So what’s different?
The cars all have bike racks, which adds some utility if you’re taking it out for the day.
There’s a gimmick called the “golden gig” that gives you 10% off on short trips. Offering a small discount is probably way cheaper than sending someone out to reposition a car.
But the big difference is the service area. As you can see, it is fairly narrowly focused on denser areas where cars are not likely to be stranded out in the sprawl.
Gig is also not afraid to create “islands” in Ballard, Beacon Hill, and at the Seatac WallyPark (not shown) where it thinks it can keep the cars moving, partly because they all have excellent bus and train service and some density.
While we’re not privy to the balance sheets of other companies in or adjacent to this space, a reasonable theory is that the staff costs associated with repositioning annihilate both profits and the environmental benefits of these services. If Gig remains narrowly focused and resists political pressure to expand to unwalkable parts of the city, it could bea viable business.
Or perhaps convenience, venture-capital subsidized rates, and a shaky labor model will make Lyft and Uber too hard for many customers to resist.
 Not really sharing