For those of us who are cash strapped and maybe running late more often than we’d like, getting to the airport can be a particularly harrowing experience. If you have the time, the best value has been the light rail. But when you’re running late, the wait on the platform can feel like an eternity, not to mention the interminable litany of stops on the way to your destination. If you’re running late, rideshares have so far been the best option, but they can also be expensive. Worse yet, the driver doesn’t know that special short-cut that you know and trying to explain it to her might just get you both lost.
Fear not tardy traveler, car2go is here to help. The popular on-demand car sharing service recently announced that it has expanded its service area to include Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. All you need to do is jump into one of its ubiquitous white and blue Smart Cars and drive to the WallyPark lot southeast of the airport. You will be charged the usual meter rate, plus a $5 fee that will cover the parking costs. A WallyPark shuttle will then quickly whisk you from the parking lot to the terminal.
Seattle was one of the first cities in the United States to enjoy car2go service, and now is one of the first in the U.S. to enjoy airport parking. The company has seen success with airport parking services in other markets, including Portland, Austin, Columbus, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, and expects to see the same in Seattle, its eighth airport market.
“Seattle is a city of really tech-savvy early adopters,” says car2go spokesperson Dacyl Armendariz. “Car sharing has been embraced in such a huge way in Seattle. For us, being able to give just one more layer of convenience to those members that have been so welcoming to our service has been really exciting for us.”
For a limited time, car2go is rewarding those early adopters with a pair of special discounts. Until October 15, to celebrate the launch of the airport service, car2go will waive the airport fee and charge members only the meter rate. That’s an especially good deal, since car2go is also offering an ongoing discounted rate in Seattle—driving a car2go anywhere in the local service area will cost $0.35 per minute (rather than the regular $0.41), $10 per hour, and $50 per day. That rate will continue indefinitely, and, unlike Uber or Lyft, car2go will never surge its prices based on demand. (car2go is also currently offering free registration and a $5 credit for new members—see the end of this article for details.)
So, let’s do the math. Including the current discounts, and assuming normal mid-day or early morning traffic, a member driving to SeaTac would pay around $7 from Columbia City or $10 from Capitol Hill—a fraction of the cost of rideshare services and taxis.
Seattle residents have probably seen car2go’s tiny, liveried Smart Cars parked in improbable parallel spots and darting around corners. We can testify to their pinpoint handling and maneuverability. But since most drivers will probably take the freeway to SeaTac, it’s fair to ask: Are these Smart Cars really cut out for the tailgaters and truckers on I-5?
“I’ve driven them on the freeway many times, and they perform really well,” says Armendariz with a laugh. She also pointed to the fact that the cars are highly visible because of their distinctive paint jobs. And, Armendariz said, all of car2go’s Smart Cars have the same rollcage used by NASCAR drivers. (Drivers are encouraged to refrain from testing this feature.)
Armendariz says car2go is also expecting to get some business from out-of-towners, and hopes that Seattle car2go members will try the service on their next trip. Armendariz said that “car2go operates in 14 cities in North America, and one car2go membership gives you access to over 7,000 vehicles across those 14 cities,” meaning that Seattle members can use car2go as an inexpensive, stress-free alternative to a full-fledged rental on both ends of their trips to tech hubs like Austin, or regional neighbors like Portland and Vancouver, B.C.
We decided to test this theory out on a a recent trip to Portland where we skipped the rental car and relied on car2go. We use the service a lot at home, both for commutes and whenever we’re meeting up at a bar and don’t want to return the next morning and collect our own car. That convenience translated easily to the travel experience. We were easily able to fit enough luggage for two people on a weekend getaway in the Smart Car and the presence of car2go rentals throughout the city meant that we never wished we had a more expensive and difficult to park full-time rental. It also gave us the option to drive when we wanted or walk and take advantage of local transit when we didn’t.
Heading back home was hard after such a carefree, car-free weekend, but it wasn’t difficult. We opened up the car2go app, found the nearest vehicle, and headed back to reality by the quickest and cheapest route possible.
car2go is also offering free registration and $5 in account credit for all new members. Just go here and enter the promotion code FLY0015.