Archive for June, 2009

Twin Cities-to-Chicago car sharing connection

June 25, 2009

Here’s a nice little plug for I-GO by a transplanted-Chicagoan blogging in Minneapolis. Maybe she can avail herself of Hour Car, a St. Paul-based car-sharing service that’s remarkably similar to I-GO’s business model. They were also launched by a non-profit green org, Neighborhood Energy Connections, that, like I-GO’s parent org Center for Neighborhood Technology (man, even the names sound alike), is invested in energy conservation initiatives and policy work.

One of Hour Car’s staff stopped by our Wicker Park office this week since he was visiting Chicago. Smart guy. They’ve got two full-time staffers and are growing their biz and fleet steadily. They’re also focused on low-emission vehicles.

Hour Car publishes a blog, too, and posted an item on I-GO yesterday.

Thanks, Hour Car compatriots.

And FYI to all I-GO members: If you’re visiting the Twin Cities, you can use Hour Car’s fleet without having to pay a membership sign-up fee. That benefit also applies to our non-profit car-sharing sister companies in Philadelphia (PhillyCarShare) and San Francisco (City CarShare).

Tell ’em I-GO sent you.

Sneak preview of Chevy Volt battery technology

June 23, 2009

Curious about the Chevy Volt’s prospects? Check out this YouTube vid posted by a tech fan. GM’s battery lab manager gives a demo of the latest battery pack they’ve designed. Toyota and Honda are still the hares to GM’s tortoise, but this battery – custom-designed and to be built in Michigan at a new GM lab – is impressive. Not to mention HUGE.

Question is: How much will the Volt cost? The guy who shot that vid thinks it’s possible that, with gov’t incentives, the Volt could compete with a fully loaded 2010 Prius. If that were the case, would more of us be inclined to buy an American electric car to help support our ailing domestic industry?

I-GO has been looking at vehicles like the Ford Fusion hybrid, a mid-size sedan, and if the Volt were cost-efficient enough for our membership organization, we’d consider that one, too, and be able to help on two fronts: advocating for clean cars and American automakers.

Any second opinions on that notion?

Suburban car culture is the carbon culprit

June 22, 2009

Props to Center for Neighborhood Technology (I-GO’s parent org) for the Chicago Sun-Times coverage today of its CO2 mapping study – which proves suburban transportation usage is a far worse carbon culprit than folks living in dense urban areas. I-GO Car Sharing gets a mention, too.

Car Free Chicago

June 21, 2009

I recently discovered a helpful new website- Carfree Chicago is a community-built resource that aims to take the guess work out of carfree living while promoting responsible transportation choices. The site is structured as a community blog; it is written by carfree Chicagoans for other carfree Chicagoans.

It’s a great site for the both the carfree and for drivers who drive out of necessity but prefer not to when possible. The site is a great resouce that covers such topics as alternative transit options (car sharing, bikes, Amtrak, Metra, Pace, etc…), carfree excursions, how to deal with going carfree with a family or when grocery shopping and many other relevant topics related to carfree living. Check it out and let us know what you think!

I-GO saddles up for Bike to Work Week

June 18, 2009

The rain hasn’t put a damper on I-GO & CNT’s Bike to Work Week efforts. We were champs in our small biz category last year in this citywide challenge promoted by our pals at the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation). New this year: We’ve got a tandem “taxi bike” in our office atrium to shuttle employees who don’t have bikes of their own. Tomorrow, we’ll be at the culminating rally in Daley Plaza. Pedal on over and give us a honk.

Ray-of-Hope LaHood reinventing transportation model

June 18, 2009

Above, from left to right: CNT Vice President of Policy Jacky Grimshaw, I-GO Car Sharing CEO Sharon Feigon, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and CNT CEO Kathryn Tholin at the Union League Club in Chicago, where LaHood spoke in May.

Who knew what to think of Ray LaHood when Obama appointed him? Turns out, writes Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Secretary of Transportation is quite progressive, indeed, and is adopting the integrated sustainability model long advocated by I-GO’s parent org, the Center for Neighborhood Technology—apparent in such current projects as CNT’s Housing & Transportation Affordability Index. LaHood talks about “location efficiency”; so do we. Seems like a Ray of hope to us.

Chicago’s I-GO Car Sharing reviewed in Wall Street Journal

June 11, 2009

The Wall Street Journal‘s “Cranky Consumer” columnist reviewed four car sharing companies in today’s paper. The column is a Consumer Reports-type deal that makes apples-to-apples comparisons, hopefully enabling consumers to make better choices. I-GO Car Sharing was the only local, nonprofit service included; the others are Zipcar, Connect by Hertz (the rental car company recently launched a car-sharing service in select markets), and Mint, a recent start-up based in New York.

We’re happy to report that, with the exception of a half-eaten French fry left on the floor by the member who had our car before the reporter’s reservation, I-GO came out smelling more or less like roses.

The Zipcar was “filthy,” apparently, and while we’re inclined to gloat, it must be said that all car-sharing companies can commiserate with that. We all have cleaning services. I-GO’s cleaning service is the ultra-green-friendly WashMe-EnviGreen, a Matteson-based progressive service run by dynamic entrepreneur Tanya Killian. Every car in our fleet is cleaned like clock-work, inside and out, at least every two weeks. But in a national culture that’s so used to service-oriented business models that don’t necessitate customer responsibility, it’s easy to point a finger at us—or the other companies reviewed in this piece—and not realize that a communal business model is at work here.

We’ve got 12,000 members. And we love ’em all. We just launched a new mobile reservations site that’s the latest, greatest member benefit at I-GO. But we need members to alert us to dirty cars, too, so that we can pinpoint recurring problems and address the situation with members whose trash is the next person’s annoyance. It’s not like we want our members to be ratting each other out, but, well, that’s sort of the nature of the beast when you’ve got 12,000 people sharing 200 vehicles. We do our best to keep up with the cleaning, but we absolutely need to function as a community that works together for the betterment of the whole.

Public getting another kick in the gas

June 9, 2009

The analysts can’t agree on the cause, but here’s an ugly fact: Americans are now pumping out a billion bucks a day to refuel their cars according to an article today in the New York Times.

All the more reason to choose car sharing as your go-to transportation option—especially in Illinois, where the price tags at the pump are among the highest in the nation.

Automotively speaking, sometimes all you can do is cry about it—over a slice of the Onion:

Autoworkers Compete to Keep Jobs, Livelihoods on New Reality Show

I-GO Car Sharing launches mobile reservations site

June 8, 2009

I-GO has always been about mobile convenience. But now we’re really on the move.

Smartphone fans, take a deep breath, tilt your touch screens and flex those thumbs: I-GO now has an online reservation site configured for iPhone, BlackBerry, and other web-enabled mobile devices.

Bookmark it, baby:

Keep in mind it’s designed for phones, not your desktop monitor, though you can get a basic idea of its functions on the latter. (It just won’t look half as cool.) iPhone users can also try out a desktop demo here.

Sweet, huh? We’re calling it “I-GO on the go.”

Now it’s exceptionally easy to log in to your online account any time, anywhere. The mobile site is a distilled, highly intuitive version of our online reservation system, customized with larger search buttons and easy-to-read drop-down menus. Search for cars by date and time, location preferences, vehicle type, and amenities just as you would on your desktop computer.

Needless to say, grabbing an I-GO car in one of the 30-plus neighborhoods we serve is now literally in the palm of your hand.

The mobile site also makes the Chicago Card Plus/I-GO Card—I-GO’s joint smartcard initiative with CTA—that much more convenient. Reserve an I-GO car within seconds that’s located at or near an upcoming stop on a CTA rail line or bus route. Next stop: I-GO.

Please note: There is a $2.99 charge the first time I-GO members use the mobile site to make, extend, cancel, or release a reservation. This will help us offset the cost of building, maintaining, and adding future enhancements to to this special feature. The fee will appear on your next month’s invoice, and all further use of the mobile site is entirely free.

I-GO on the go. Now the city’s your car-sharing oyster.

The long and winding GM road doesn’t dead-end here

June 3, 2009

Laughter is the best medicine. But $20 billion in federal aid is even better:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
BiG Mess
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor

We’re pulling for GM, the American auto industry, and its future green machines. But that has to be coupled with investment in efficient, sustainable public transportation (i.e., high-speed rail, hydrogen fuel-cell buses like the CTA uses), alternative energy sources (wind & solar power), advanced lithium-ion battery research, natural gas if your name is T. Boone Pickens, and, um, car sharing. Though, at I-GO, we’ll settle for less than $20 billion. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.