Going Carless in Minneapolis?
August 4, 2007 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to sell my car and get around using public transportation and a shared car service like HourCar or ZipCar in Minneapolis. Has anyone used either of these services?

I live near Minneapolis, less than a block from a light rail station, and I work in Minneapolis. I take the light rail to work every day, and drive my car a few times a month. I'd love to save the money I'm putting in to my car every month.

Until recently my biggest concern was getting to a grocery store easily, especially in the winter, but I've started using the Lake Street/Midtown Cub Foods that is right off the light rail.

I have a bike, I don't mind walking, but I know that there will be times when I'll need to drive. Have you used HourCar or know someone who has? Was the experience good? Any issues?
posted by chriswarren to Travel & Transportation around Minneapolis, MN (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For what it's worth, the public transportation in Minneapolis is fairly well-developed.

Also, as you said, there's a Lake Street plaza that has stores that will serve most needs just blocks off the light rail: Target, Cub Foods, etc.. Unfortunately, that's also in one of the more unsafe areas in Minneapolis. If I'm not mistaken (and I may well be), Atmosphere reminisces about finding a gun on Lake Street in his youth in "Always Coming Back Home To You." Fortunately for you, farther down the line there are other useful substitute stops (e.g. Amy's Foods near 46th St, and a Lund's less than a mile from there, across the river on Ford Pkwy).
posted by charmston at 8:48 AM on August 4, 2007

FWIW, we used vrtuCAR in Ottawa up until a recent move, and loved it.

There might've been some occasional frustrations if we'd been (1) extremely car-dependent and (2) not right downtown and within walking distance of loads of the car drop-offs. And sometimes you'll kick yourself for making what turns out to be a very expensive, very frivolous trip. It requires some adjustment from being a car owner.

Not much, though. If we moved back to the city, I don't think we'd have any hesitations about selling the car and going back to the car-sharing deal.
posted by kmennie at 9:05 AM on August 4, 2007

Zipcar is great. I'm from Minneapolis and haven't used it there, but I've used it in New York with great success.
posted by jeffxl at 9:22 AM on August 4, 2007

I've used Zipcar in Washington DC and Flexcar in San Francisco, mostly for grocery shopping once a month or so when I needed to buy heavy or bulky staple foods. I loved them both and would certainly recommend the concept.

I would say at the beginning I generally underestimated the time things would take me, and have had to get used to adding an extra hour (and its cost) to the reservations. But I didn't have a car in either of those places before using the services, so you probably will have a more realistic sense of that than I did.

They also don't work well for longer trips (since some of them charge by the mile, and they all charge by the hour), so I also sometime rent a car for a day or two.
posted by occhiblu at 9:51 AM on August 4, 2007

I love Zipcar. I started using it when I was living in Boston and my first thought was "I wish they had this in Mpls." I guess they do now! The biggest thing is accessibility - make sure there are lots of zipcars parked near your house, or else it'll be pretty worthless. As for price - it's not exactly cheap, but if you just use it a few times a month, it's definitely cheaper than having a car!

I lived in Mpls for two years without a car (actually, I lived in St Paul). It was fine for most things - I took the bus to work, to the supermarket, etc. The only major issue was with my social life in the winter time - taking a bus at 1 in the morning is not really fun in Minnesota in January. However, since you live in S Mpls, that may not be an issue for you... AND you have the new Global Market (is that what it's called?) nearby, which has places to buy food.

On preview: I think you should be fine over at that particular shopping plaza on Lake. Especially during the day!
posted by lunasol at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2007

My girlfriend's in South Mpls. She was a very satisfied Hourcar customer when she lived within walking distance of a drop-off. Now she's a light rail ride away from one and has found she needs her own car for grocery shopping, but she kept the Hourcar membership. Always seemed to go very smoothly when I was around; she never had trouble getting reservations. If you have groceries figured out, I think you're set.
posted by clavicle at 12:07 PM on August 4, 2007

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