District Department of Transportation

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How Carsharing Works

How Carsharing Works - orange carsharing streetsign on pole

Carsharing is a membership-based program that provides the use of privately owned and maintained vehicles for short-term use in the metropolitan area.

What is carsharing?

Carsharing is a membership-based program that provides the use of privately owned and maintained vehicles for short-term use in the metropolitan area. Vehicles can be rented for as little as an hour. This reduces the need to bring your own car into the city. Currently Zipcar provides this service in DC.

To improve transportation in the District, DDOT will designate parking spaces for this program and will assist in enforcement. All service inquires should be directed to the respective companies.
Carsharing is a supplement to public transit. When used in conjunction with public transportation, walking or bicycling, carsharing can reduce or eliminate the need for owning a personal vehicle. (Studies show that 6 to 10 households can share a single carsharing vehicle.) Carsharing helps you travel more easily in the Metropolitan area.

How do I sign up?

By signing up with Zipcar you can promptly begin service. Complete a membership application online with the provider of your choice, or call either provider and choose the company that is the best fit for you.

Who provides the service?

Currently Zipcar is the only company providing carsharing services in DC. Contact Zipcar to find out about memberships, rental fees, vehicle types and other services. You can reach Zipcar at (866) 4ZIPCAR.

Do I pay for gas and insurance?

Gas, maintenance, insurance and the rental fee are included in the price of the vehicle rental. Contact Zipcar for further details and pricing.

Where are the cars located?

Carsharing vehicles are located throughout Washington, DC. Lists of carsharing locations are available on the Zipcar website. Then, it is a simple matter of choosing the location that is best for you. It will be easy to locate a carsharing vehicle with a designated curbside space because DDOT has placed highly visible orange signposts next to these spots.

Where can I park my carsharing vehicle?

The great thing about carsharing is that parking spaces at pick-up and drop-off locations are reserved for carsharing vehicles. The curbside carsharing spots are clearly marked with “No parking except carshare vehicle” signs and stencils to ensure that the space is there for you when need it. When running errands throughout the city, carsharing vehicles must be parked in legal parking spaces - like any other car.

Can I park my carshare vehicle in any carshare spot?

No. Each vehicle has one designated parking space. Other carsharing spots must remain available for other carshare users. If you are using the vehicle you will be responsible for parking it legally. That means if you are parking at a metered spot you are responsible for obeying all parking conditions. Contact service providers for specific parking details.

What types of vehicles are available?

Zipcar offers a variety of vehicle choices. Contact Zipcar for a complete list of vehicle types.

What happens if I need assistance with the vehicle?

Zipcar offers 24-hour customer service. If you need assistance, contact your service provider for help.

How can carsharing create more parking for everyone in my neighborhood?

Carsharing membership is a good idea for some people - and not for others. Many who feel that carsharing is not a good option for them wonder whether designated carsharing parking spaces will make it more difficult for them to park in neighborhoods where parking is already scarce. Studies have shown that 6 to 10 households can share a single carsharing vehicle. Studies have also shown that many carsharing members sell a car they own or avoid the purchase of a car that they planned to buy before joining the carsharing service. For these reasons, DDOT is confident that carsharing parking spaces will reduce the total number of cars in congested neighborhoods and make parking easier for everyone - whether they use carsharing or not. Think about the bus stops in your neighborhood. Cars aren't allowed to park there. But because they make it possible for so many people to use transit and avoid car ownership, bus stops (and the bus service that goes with them) actually free up more parking spaces than they consume.

DDOT is only designating a few, strategically located spaces for carsharing vehicles. DDOT will monitor carsharing activity in the District to ensure that it fulfills our expectations. If it does not, the program will be discontinued.