Car share cost comparison

When I moved to the UK to study many years ago, one of the big changes for me was living much closer to my workplace. Having grown up in the Melbourne suburbs, this was a revelation. Suddenly, I didn’t need to spend hours every day commuting. I was an instant convert. It also allowed me to avoid buying a car, very handy on a student budget.

Upon returning to Melbourne, I was keen to continue a minimal-commute, car-free existence. I now live and work close to the CBD. Public transport is very easy when you are so central, there is plenty of choice and frequent service. I’m pleasantly surprised how little I actually need a car.

Nonetheless, sometimes only a car will do the job. What are the best options out there? The familiar ones are to take a taxi or rent a car. Over the last few years, a new option has entered the mix: car sharing. This is similar to renting, but you can book a car for shorter periods of time (for example, 2 hours for a big shopping trip) and with less hassle (simply reserve a car online, and then pick it up and drop it off without signing any forms).

Three car share businesses have established a presence in Melbourne: GoGet, Flexicar and GreenShareCar. I wanted to join one but it wasn’t clear which one was the best deal for me. Frustratingly, they each had a different pricing structure. So I whipped out the trusty spreadsheet and did some calculations, which made the choice much clearer.

Some people have asked me if I could share this around, so I’ve polished it up a bit and hopefully made it easy to use. You can grab a copy from here:

Australian car share comparison (Google Docs spreadsheet)

The instructions are on the first sheet. The easiest way to use it is to make a copy of it within Google Drive (File > Make a copy...).

The spreadsheet makes a number assumptions, such as averaging out your trips equally across all months, and not accounting for any uncertainty in the number of trips, but that’s probably fine for a rough estimate. Use it as a guide only, and trying different scenarios to see how much difference it makes.

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