Yes, I’ll admit it. We were a two car family. Now thanks to a membership with Grand River Carshare, I have a new ride–many new rides actually.

We have deliberately chosen a different lifestyle.

When I started to work out of an office in downtown Kitchener, I decided that walking was the best way to get there and back. Most days our second car sat at home by itself. We decided that it made no sense to be paying for a second car. I also realized that by advocating for public transit especially the LRT and for a pedestrian-friendly city that I should take the opportunity to do more to walk my talk.

Enter the good folks at Grand River Carshare!

I joined Grand River Carshare in September and have found the overall experience to be excellent.

I found that I mostly needed a car for meetings outside of downtown Kitchener. When I need a car, I usually have a choice of which one to select. There is an online reservation system that makes arranging a car a quick and simple experience. I find the cars to be very nice such as the Toyota Matrix.

I often use the car in east downtown Kitchener on King St. E. at Cameron Street because it is a short walk from home. I also have easy access to several cars in the downtown core such as at the Tannery and the GRT terminal. I’m hoping to see more members in the King and Ottawa area so that there is enough demand for a car tentatively planned for the Rockway Centre.

Financially, the decision has made sense. On average, I’ve been paying about the same if not less than what we used to pay in insurance alone for our second car. There are other benefits too since I know we’re not making as many car trips as before which benefits the environment. I am also getting much more daily exercise than when I used one of our cars as my default choice for transportation.

Join me! Join Grand River Carshare!

Getting around means more than cars

The carshare lifestyle means more than sharing a car with others who only need one occasionally. Living the carshare lifestyle also means using more than just cars to get around. A goal of the carshare movement is to get people to make conscious choices about how they will get from point A to point B. One effect of not having car related expenses come directly and invisibly from your bank account is that you notice the cost of a car trip when you choose to take one. It doesn’t always make sense especially when you know that there are convenient alternatives.

For me that means walking even more than before joining since if something is within a reasonable walking distance and time allows that is my preferred mode of transportation. In high school that meant a 20 minute walk to St. Jerome’s High School rather than joining the “Get Along Gang.” But it was also how I got around when living in Ottawa without any car at all.

My experience in Ottawa taught me that it is possible to live without a car. Life goes on. You just make different choices. Of course, it helps to live within walking distance of work, necessities like food stores and a variety of entertainment options. When I temporarily moved back from Ottawa for what was to only be six months, the first thing I did was to buy a car. I couldn’t imagine living in Kitchener-Waterloo working for a politician without a car. Now with changes to my life and our community, my family and I can live with one car.

Grand River Transit - iXpress bus

Being part of carshare also means that I’m found on Grand River Transit more frequently than ever before when living in Kitchener. I use it when it is too far to walk or the weather is bad. But I also take use it to get to meetings in Cambridge and downtown Waterloo. I especially love the iXpress which gets me to meetings near Hespeler Road near the 401 in two quick stops or with the help of a short transfer. It also made taking my kids to Fairview Park Mall a breeze.

The online planner is helpful even if it’s not entirely user-friendly. It’s an improvement over relying on paper schedules and maps. One improvement I’d like to see is to be able to plan based on when you need to be somewhere. An app for the Blackberry in the hometown of RIM is also a must.

Where I live and work and the nearby iXpress stop has made Grand River Transit a real transportation option for me. But you don’t need to live centrally to make good use of it as Emily Baetz wrote recently in The Record. Yes, Grand River Transit has a long way to go to be a viable transportation option for many locations in our community but it’s come a long way such as the two iXpress routes (a second now serves Fischer-Hallman). Planned improvements to the bus system will make it even better especially the north-south iXpress routes such as on Ottawa Street that will help people get to the Auditorium for Rangers games. These improvements are now slated to start in 2018 and together with the LRT will change everything about public transit in Waterloo Region.

And to my cyclist friends, I want to add that yes I do find myself using my bike more often as transportation at times when walking or taking the bus are not the best option and I don’t have access to our remaining car. But you won’t find me on the sidewalk! Unless of course, I’m pulling my kids behind me. ; )

How do you get around Waterloo Region? Are you open to a change?

2 thoughts on “My new ride

  1. This is a very timely post. After spending a ridiculous amount of money today on maintaining the lesser of our two cars, my wife and I have basically talked ourselves into the benefits of selling it. Ideally, we’d prefer to be a one car family. Grand River Carshare is an intriguing option.

    1. I hear you Mike. We were getting to the point that of making expensive repairs, investing in a new vehicle or trying carshare. So far it’s worked well for us. We’ve got kids but so far we’ve been able to handle the driving for them with our own car though it’s nice to know we could use GRC if we really needed to be in two places at the same time that worked best by car.

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