This week, Enterprise CarShare launched in Downtown Honolulu and Waikīkī. As someone who lives car free and is interested in alternative ways of getting around, I ran to be the first to sign up and try it out. Despite some clunkiness and roughness around the edges, it’s a good program, something I’ll be using again, and I’m proud to be a member. I’ll explain.
What is Enterprise CarShare?
Carsharing programs can be operated a number of different ways. I’d describe Enterprise’s model is “short-term car rental for residents.” Cars have homes in different assigned parking spots across town, members can reserve them in 15-minute increments with short (or long) notice, and the costs are inclusive of gas, insurance, and unlimited mileage. One unlocks the car by using their membership card, the keys are inside, and when you’re done you return the car back to the same parking stall, lock it up with your member card and you’re done.
If you sign up in 2014, they will waive the $40 membership fee and rates are a discounted $5.00/hour. It’s a perfect opportunity to try it out and then decide later if you want to pay to continue after a year. After filling out their form, I received an email:
Mahalo for signing up for Enterprise CarShare! Your application has been submitted and will be processed by our corporate approval team within 1-2 business days. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
If your driver’s license was issued by the states of Hawaii, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire or Washington, or any any country outside the US, please call one of our conveniently located branches below to make arrangements to have your license visually validated. Validation of your driver’s license is a requirement of membership to Enterprise CarShare.
This in-person verification was a step I wasn’t aware of when signing up, but luckily I live across the street from one of the locations. I walked down and talked with the branch manager who was excited to get me going and gave me my welcome packet.
We’re still not ready to go yet, though. The next morning I received another email:
Thank you for choosing Enterprise CarShare!
In order to complete your application, your driver’s license must be verified. Because your license cannot be verified by our automated system, we ask that you please call one of our conveniently located branches listed below to make arrangements to have your license visually validated. Once your license has been verified, we’ll finish processing your application and you can be approved in minutes!
I responded back, carbon copying the branch manager I spoke with the day previous, saying she had already verified my driver’s license. I received no response. The next day in a new email thread:
Welcome to Enterprise CarShare! You have been approved as an Enterprise CarShare member. Your Member ID is R18983.
Your Member Card will arrive via USPS in 7-10 business days.
Good news, but I already had my Member Card with Member Number 137920. It took me a bit to figure out that Member Number and Member ID are two different things. The Member ID works on the website, the Member Number is for everything else. You also cannot change your Member ID to a username that’s more memorable. Nonetheless, I’m in.
Easiest way to reserve a car is using a web browser on a computer. I was unable to get the mobile version to work for me, and there is no smartphone app. There is also a $50 penalty for taking a car without a reservation, so reserving is important. It’s easy enough when you log in: punch in the day and period of time you want it, it shows you the available cars, and then reserve.
The car I tried to reserve kept giving me an error, but once I tried a different car I was all set.
They have some bugs to figure out and there’s room for improvement in this process.
Signing up and reserving are the hard parts – the rest is easy. The parking stalls for Enterprise CarShare on Ke‘eaumoku are about an eight minute walk for where I live, so it’s very convenient for times I might need a car. The member card placed on the sensor suctioned to the windshield of the car you reserved verifies who you are and unlocks the doors. The car keys are in the glove box, along with a packet including a gas card, information on what to do in an accident, insurance information and such.
You don’t really need to deal with the packet, as long as you give the car a inspection and don’t notice any evidence of an accident or damage. From here on out, it acts and feels like any regular rental car. If you stop somewhere, you take the key with you and lock the car normally. The member card is used only to begin and end the entire session with the car at it’s assigned parking stall.
If you need to extend your time with the car or want to end it earlier, you can visit the website to change it. I didn’t have much success using the site with my phone but I presume that’ll be improving.
Out of curiosity, I decided to fill up the vehicle using the provided gas card. It’s a necessity if you’re running low, as you’ll get a penalty if you return it empty. The gas card works like a credit card, except instead of the zip code many gas pumps ask for, it asks for your odometer reading and then your member number. A tip based on my experience: have those two numbers ready before you start the process.
I reserved the car for three hours and after taxes it came out to $16.40. I picked up a friend, went to Uncle Clay’s in ‘Āina Haina for shave ice, did some grocery shopping in Kahala, dropped my friend back off, made another quick stop in Kaimukī and headed home. I actually only needed the car for about two hours, so I could have paid even less. For the same trip by bus, it would have been hours. With UberX or Lyft, I would have only made it to Uncle Clay’s (but not back) for just under the same amount. Considering that the cost of Enterprise CarShare includes everything: car, fuel, insurance*, and unlimited miles, it doesn’t beat traditional car ownership for every trip but when used in combination with regular biking and bus for normal commuting and the occasional rideshare and taxi, it is definitely a good deal and fairly convenient if you live in urban Honolulu.
Bottom line: if you’re in a household that lives and works in metro Honolulu and are considering getting rid of a car or are already car free, Enterprise CarShare is another option that makes not owning a car an easier thing to do.
- Pacific Business News: Enterprise launching rent-by-the-hour car share in Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki
- Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Enterprise’s hourly rental fleet expands
- Enterprise CarShare: Honolulu
* “Optional Supplemental Liability Protection” in addition to the state-mandated liability protection can be added for $1.60 an hour.