By Bill Parry
With subway service strained on several lines in western Queens, residents received some transportation alternatives last month.
First there was the long-awaited rollout of Citi Bike with 12 docking stations in Long Island City. Then Aug. 29, a new one-way, pay-as-you-go car sharing company arrived on the scene.
Car2Go, which launched in Brooklyn last year, expanded into the borough with 100 Smart cars in Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City. Now residents and visitors in a 44-square-mile area can use the two-seat Smart Fortwo cars for a $1.20 driver’s fee and 41 cents per minute, after paying a one-time $35 registration fee.
To make the expansion more attractive, Car2Go is offering a referral program until Oct. 4 that will allow existing members to receive 20 free driving minutes for each friend or family member they refer. Each referred new member will receive a discounted registration of $10, as well as 30 free minutes of drive time.
“We’ve already heard great enthusiasm from the community for Car2Go’s launch in Queens,” Car2Go New York General Manager Tom O’Neill said. “It’s going tremendously well since the very first day of the launch. Within the first couple of hours they were all gone.”
Members can locate a Car2Go vehicle with a smartphone app, a website, or by calling the customer call center, or simply finding an available car anywhere within the 44-square-mile Car2Go zone throughout wester Queens and Brooklyn. Using the app the car unlocks and an illuminated touch screen is activated. After answering a couple of questions on the screen a key is released for use.
When members are finished with the car, they can park at any city non-metered space, or on any residential street within the zone. Fuel, insurance and maintenance are included at no extra cost.
Members can use the Car2Go service by the minute and pay only for the time they use the vehicle, with discounted rates for hourly and daily use. There are no annual or monthly fees required to use the service.
McNeil says he has noticed a lot of usage on the weekends in Queens. He also found another interesting trend.
“We’re seeing a lot of cars coming into Queens from Brooklyn,” McNeil said. “Queens has gotten a tremendous amount of press lately and it seems like a lot of Brooklynites are taking day trips north to see what all the talk is about.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr