Frequently Asked Questions
If your question isn't answered here, e-mail or call us. We'll get back to you right away.
What is Ithaca Carshare? Ithaca Carshare is a membership-based service that provides 24/7 access to vehicles on an hourly basis. As a member, you reserve a car on the web or over an automated phone system. You unlock the car with a special keycard, drive where you want, and return it to the same location where you lock it with your keycard and leave it. Members pay a hourly and mileage rate to use the car. You are not charged additional fees for gas, insurance, maintenance, cleaning, or permanent parking!
Will Ithaca Carshare work for me? Our service can work for anyone, but especially those who:
- Drive less than 10,000 miles per year
- Walk, bike, take public transit or use other ways to get around occasionally
- Do not often rely on vehicles for multi-day trips
- Do not rely on a car for the daily commute
- Are interested in owning fewer cars, but still need to use a car occasionally
Check out Way2Go of Tompkins County for more transportation information and resources.
How is carsharing different from car rental? Ithaca Carshare gives you instant access to a network of cars throughout the city, 24 hours-a-day, paying by the trip, without large commitments or inconvenience. Members have convenient, direct access to vehicles without the necessity of repetitive paperwork or extra fees for gas and insurance. Reserving cars can be done online or through an automated phone system, at any time. You don't need to visit an office to sign a contract or pick up keys when you need a car - it's self-service.
Is Ithaca Carshare affiliated with any other carsharing organizations? Ithaca Carshare is a founding member of the Carsharing Association, an international association of carsharing organizations committed to a code of ethics of providing sustainable, transit-oriented urban mobility for the benefit of the communities that they serve. These carsharing organizations have over 13,000 vehicles and 810,000 members in over 50 cities in North America, including Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Boulder, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Madison, Kitchener/Waterloo (ON), Montreal, and Ottawa. Ithaca Carshare has roaming memberships agreements with several of these organizations.
What kind of vehicles are available?
We are committed to cars with high fuel efficiency and low emissions. Ithaca Carshare's fleet is comprised of mostly newer fuel-efficient hatchbacks (Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris), a larger Scion xB for added cargo space, a Nissan Quest minivan, and a Toyota Tacoma pickup. Both the Nissan Quest and Toyota Tacoma have a dump sticker. As Ithaca Carshare grows, we expect to add new vehicles with high fuel efficiency and low emissions.
Will Ithaca Carshare have hybrids? We are committed to having a fleet of vehicles with the highest fuel economy in their class. To keep reasonable rates for our members, we have focused mostly on affordable yet fuel efficient hatchbacks. Since research indicates that each carshare car takes about 15 cars off the road, we feel confident that even before we add hybrids to our fleet, we are significantly reducing the environmental and economic impacts of transportation in Ithaca. In fact, our members have already told us they expected to not own 200 cars because of us!
Where are Ithaca Carshare cars located? Find them on this map! We have 19 vehicles throughout Ithaca. As usage grows, we expand our network in locations convenient to members, most likely in densely populated areas and/or employment centers.
How much money can Ithaca Carshare save me? The savings from carsharing can be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars per year, depending on your current car situation. Those who rely on a car for most of their trips can see a significant savings over a longer period when the cost of payments/depreciation, gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and registration are taken into account. For those who were considering buying a truck to haul loads around once in a while, carsharing can also provide amazing savings since our rates are the same for our pickup as for our cars.
Is carsharing less expensive than owning a car? The average cost of owning a car in the U.S. is over $9,000 per year when the cost of fuel, insurance, upkeep, repairs, and loan or lease payments are taken into account. Contrasted with the average daily use of car -- less than an hour-and-a-half a day -- car ownership works out to be about $18 an hour of usage! For many people, carsharing offers much of same convenience, privacy, and flexibility of owning a car, for much less than the cost of owning. Check out our Own. Vs. Share page to help you figure out your best options.
Is there a benefit for students, faculty or staff of Cornell University or Ithaca College?
Ithaca Carshare is excited to offer special membership rates to the college communities in Ithaca. Both Cornell University and Ithaca College offer special rates and packages for students and faculty/staff. You can find the full details on our College Rates page.
What about insurance? For members 21 and up, you are covered by Ithaca Carshare's insurance. If you are 18 through 20, you must also be covered by another auto liability insurance policy and provide proof of this to us. Ithaca Carshare provides a high level of insurance -- up to $1,000,000 per incident. As a member, you're only responsible for a $500 deductible.
What are the membership qualifications? Ithaca Carshare offers membership to drivers age 18 and up, who have a valid driver's license and who meet minimum eligibility requirements, including 2 years of driving history.
How does the application process work? Just fill out an online application for membership and complete the online orientation. Once you have done this, we will charge your credit card for the application fee and process your membership, which usually takes less than a week. Approved members will be notified by email about when to expect their member materials and keycard by mail. (Email us or call our office at 277.3210 x3 if you'd prefer to pick up your member materials.)
Do I have to have a credit card? No. While a credit card is preferred, you can also pay using a Visa or Mastercard debit card. You can also pay by cash, check or Ithaca Hours. We require a $200 deposit in these cases.
How do I find the car I reserved? Each Ithaca Carshare vehicle is parked in its own designated "home" space. All vehicle locations are shown on this map, and all of our vehicles carry the Ithaca Carshare logo.
How do I get the keys? Your keycard will unlock the car you've reserved. The ignition key is in the vehicle. All of these details are outlined in our Member Handbook and during the online orientation.
Who keeps the gas tank filled? We all do. One of the responsibilities of membership is to help keep the car fueled. If the gas gauge goes below one-quarter tank, just stop at a gas station and fill the tank using the Ithaca Carshare fuel card kept in the car. It's easy, and there are instructions with the card. You are not charged for using this card.
How far can I drive an Ithaca Carshare car? There are no limits to how far you drive, but all usage must be round-trip, not one-way. You pay per mile that you drive. You must return the car to the spot where you picked it up.
How long can I keep an Ithaca Carshare car? If the car is available, you may reserve it for as long as you need it, via web or phone. We also have a day rate on most of our cars; your charges are capped at 10 hours for each 24-hour period.
What are other rules for carsharing? When you become a member, you complete a short orientation and receive our Member Handbook, outlining the requirements of membership. Ithaca Carshare members are expected to use the vehicles responsibly and have consideration for the other members. For instance, we expect you to return the car on time, keep the car clean, and gas it up if the tank is low. If an infraction occurs, you may be charged a penalty, and if problems continue, membership can be terminated. When in doubt, call us! The number is 607.277.3210.
Why is carsharing "good for the planet"? A 2004 study by the Transportation Research Board showed that for each carsharing vehicle, nearly 15 privately owned cars come off the road. Fewer cars on our streets and highways means less traffic, less wear-and-tear on the infrastructure, and a reduction in climate-altering emissions. Studies also show that more than two-thirds of carshare members either sell their second car or postpone buying one, once carsharing becomes a habit. Because second cars may be older, less efficient, and less well maintained vehicles, getting them off the road means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner air, and quieter neighborhoods. Already we've seen that Ithaca Carshare has helped our members sell or avoiding purchasing about 200 cars!
What if I'm late bringing the car back? If you know you're going to be late, call 607.277.3210 x1 and see if you can extend your reservation. If someone has the car immediately after you, you will be connected with our 24-hour line, where we will find out how much you expect to be late.
If you're the member who is waiting, we will contact you as soon as we know your car may be late. Usually we will see if it works for you to use another vehicle, or call you a taxi to get you where you need to be.
In either of those cases, the member who is late will have a penalty fee charged to their account: $1/minute with a $30 minimum if they didn't call in, and 50 cents/min if they did call us.
What if the car I reserved isn't there? Call us immediately at 607.277.3210x2 and we will help you find another car, or do our best to get you to your destination another way.
What if there's a crash? Call 911 or the police, just as you would for any car crash or fender bender and make sure everyone involved is safe or is being cared for. Then call us immediately at 607.277.3210 x2 and we will help you through any insurance issues.