In many parts of Italy there simply is no more room to use cars decently, regardless of their cost or emissions. For this reason, a few days ago I translated into Italian a beautiful post on the Frugal Urban blog about the benefits of car sharing in Ottawa.

A few days later, the announcement of those translations on a mailing list prompted Damiano C. to write on that same list about his car sharing experience in Rome. This is good both because even Damiano had a positive experience and because it’s not from Canada but from Italy, therefore more directly relevant for residents of Italy who want to avoid the costs and headaches of owning a car. Since it’s useful information for everybody evaluating car sharing (I would say that if it works with Italians in Rome, it can work everywhere!), here’s the English version of Damiano’s story (the italics or bold markup is mine):

Damiano: I have been using car-sharing in Rome since January 2011. Almost four months after the beginning of this new way of using a car, I find it very good.

I arrived to car-sharing through a more or less obliged choice. I owned a car, a gasoline+liquid gas Kalos, so fuel costs weren’t even that high. Apart from this the car was idle for almost the entire day in the parking lot below the house, since the place where I work is accessible by public transport. As a rule, except in the evenings (when public transportation in Rome is unusable) I always prefer public transportation to the car, for obvious reasons of sustainability. These where the costs of my:

  • Insurance: 780 Euros per year

  • Car monthly payment: 250 Euro per month (for 3 years, for a total of 9000 Euro)

  • Gasoline / liquid gas: 120 Euro per month

so I was spending for the car a constant minimum sum of about 435 Euros per month, to which you should add taxes and assorted permits, accidents, routine maintenance and repairs. So I finally decided!! I sold the car for about 2000 Euro (it was damaged and I never had the money to repair it) and I immediately subscribed to the car sharing service in Rome/. After 4 months, these are the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • I save about 1500 Euros per year

  • Pollution is reduced to the minimum (the cars run on gasoline, at least those available in Rome!)

  • The car is available 80% of the times at the nearest parking lot, or at another 15 minutes away

  • I can drive inside ZTL (the limited traffic area in ​​the historic center of Rome), whereas driving there with a private car will cost you a 74 Euros fine every time

  • I can drive in the fast lane (this hugely reduces travel times in Rome, where traffic can block you for life!)

  • Parking fees in reserved areas are included (another 38 Euro fine avoided)

  • I have a parking lot just below my house

  • Private cars left in the parking lots reserved to car sharing are towed away as soon as possible, so I am sure I will always find space in the lot below my house.

  • The cost is reasonable

  • There are cars available for all needs. Most of the FIAT line, from 500 to Cargo, is available

  • Gasoline is included in the price, there is a credit card inside the car that you can use to fill up the tank

  • Business packages are available.

Cons:

The only drawback I see is that the car sharing parking lots are few and far apart, and only in the center of Rome and its immediate surroundings. Therefore (in this period, at least) the service is not very accessible to those who live in the suburbs. Moreover, not all machines are available at all car parks, because the service is not yet used to its full potential.

Conclusion: how does car sharing in Rome look?

All in all, the service is good, the machines are clean and in good conditions. Obviously car sharing is part of a general discourse about sustainable mobility and attention to environmental issues that not everybod has embraced yet. As always, it would be enough if everybody was more aware of certain issues and made a small effort. On the other hand, the way the City of Rome advertises the service is still unsufficient and really unattractive. Basically the idea is good but, like everything, could be improved. For me, car sharing has been a choice prompted by several reasons, but others could do it just because it does save money! To find out more about car sharing in Rome, visit its official website!