California is full of reasons to not own a car, and that's not even counting the traffic. Yet there's always room for another reason, and this week, it's called Gig.
Gig is a car-sharing scheme put together by the AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah regional club. It promises one-way sharing, in that you don't need to leave the vehicle in the exact spot where you first picked it up.
Launching in late April, Gig is pretty straightforward. First, download the app for iOS or Android. Then, enter your credit card and driver's license information, provide a picture of yourself and that's it -- now you're ready to drive... once you find a car.
To do that, use the app to find a car within a specific HomeZone, which is an approved area for pick-ups and drop-offs. When you book the car, you have 30 minutes to grab it before it's once again available to other users. You can unlock the car with your phone or with something called a Gig Card, which is mailed to you after your first trip and contains a unique RFID chip that can also unlock the car.
You don't have to worry about selecting the right kind of car, because they're all the same -- every Gig car is aa compact hybrid that seats five. Don't like it? Go get a Zipcar or something.
Pricing is a little less straightforward. Gig can charge different rates by the mile, hour or day. At the end of each trip, Gig's app will figure out which one provides the lowest charge, and will apply that one. $2.50 is the minimum per trip, and that doesn't account for cleanup fees ($100), smoking fees ($100) and the fee to retrieve a vehicle left outside the HomeZone ($50, plus $5 per mile outside the HomeZone).
Speaking of HomeZones, there are only two to start -- in Oakland and Berkeley, California. There's also a satellite HomeZone at Oakland International Airport, for folks who need to head out of town.