RelayRides: Car Sharing On The Rise In Boston

By Jaclyn Cashman

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Oct. 28, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 27 on WGBH's Greater Boston.


BOSTON — Move over Hertz and Budget, there's a new option for renting a car in Boston: You can borrow your neighbor's. At a price, of course.

Michael Monroe lives in Somerville and sold his car two years ago because he didn't want the financial and logistical hassle of owning a vehicle in the city, so he rents one from time-to-time.

"I feel free now that I don't own a car. Between the train, my own two legs and RelayRides I feel really covered," Monroe said.

Monroe uses RelayRides to help him find a car in his neighborhood that he can rent directly from the car owner. He rents cars by the hour and the cost of the gas is on the owner.

One big component of this service is trust, because in this case the owner has to give the renter access to the garage with other personal belongings inside.

"It really is an exercise in community and trust. I think people who are signing up are not scheming for the heist of the century," Monroe said.

RelayRides started last year and is currently only in Boston and San Francisco. It allows owners to rent out their idle vehicles, with the owner controlling the rates and availability of the car. RelayRides provides an online marketplace and a $1 million insurance policy to make the transaction safe and convenient.

Carsharing in North America has grown from 400,000 users in 2009 to 640,000 in July 2011. A recent study projects carsharing will have an estimated 4.4 million users by 2016.

That has Kevin Patton-Hock seeing green. He gets about $150 to $300 dollars a month without any heavy lifting. "It is kind of a cool neighborhood thing. It is funny to bump into someone who is using the car," Patton-Hock said.

He rents out his vehicle to strangers for seven dollars an hour and in return he gets some spare cash.

Patton-Hock says RelayRides makes him take better care of his car and also often uses the money for car repairs and maintenance.



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