Zipcar Introduces New Flexibility Features, Including One-Way Trips

Zipcar cuts the ribbon, announcing its new one-way trip features available now in Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Zipcar cuts the ribbon, announcing its new one-way trip features available now in Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At a downtown Los Angeles press event today, Zipcar representatives announced new car-share “flexibility” features. The new features, described below, are currently available uniquely in the Southern California market, and will be rolled out to other North American cities throughout 2016.

In the past, Zipcar car-share required users to always return cars to the parking space where they were checked out. A Zipcar checked out in Koreatown needed to come back to Koreatown at the end of the trip.

The traditional round-trip option remains available, but Zipcar has now added one-way trips. These work a little like smart-dock bike-share systems, in that users can check out a Zipcar from one location, then return it to a different Zipcar location, but still only in designated Zipcar parking spaces. For example, a Zipcar checked out in Koreatown could be turned in at LAX, or a rail rider might take a Zipcar back from a trip that runs later than Metro rail operates. For one-way trips, users still make a reservation, including reserving a designated Zipcar parking space for the end of the trip.

Additional flexibility features allow users to change destinations mid-trip, and to extend reservations indefinitely mid-trip.

The new features were tested in Boston, and have been piloted at L.A. college campus locations over the past couple of months, before being made available throughout the greater Los Angeles area today. 

According to Zipcar’s press materials there are more than 500 Zipcars available in more than 175 locations in the greater Los Angeles area, including West Hollywood, Hollywood, UCLA, USC, Santa Monica, and LAX. In mid-2015, Zipcar and Metro announced a partnership that places Zipcars at selected Metro rail stations. Also per Zipcar: “Zipcar’s new flexible offering will consist solely of select Honda vehicles, including the Honda Fit, the fuel-efficient, versatile and fun subcompact that can fit up to five people and their gear.”

How about you, readers? Do you use Zipcar? Can you see yourself taking advantage of the new flexibility? Have you tried these new features? If so, what did you think?


  • Stvr

    Sadly unless Uber raises prices this news is totally irrelevant. For the same price as a Zipcar One Way you can just take an UberPool and (!) you can read your phone the whole time. This would have been cool five years ago though.

  • I agree. It seems like Zipcar is getting eclipsed by Smartphone-based ride hailing services, which of course have always been about one-way trips. If you have to drop off a Zipcar in a Zipcar parking space, you can only drive Zipcar to areas where those spaces exist for one-way trips. This creates an infrastructure problem because inevitably there won’t be Zipcar parking everywhere you might want to go. On the other hand, the Uber/Lyfts of the world are operating in a legal gray area and don’t meet the same standards of driver screening as classic taxis.

  • Jason

    I can easily see use cases for this. Like if I want to make a few stops along the way to a friend’s place, I can do so for cheaper than chaining together Uber trips, and then use Uber for the return trip.

    However what I’d really like to see is Car2Go relaunch in LA, but with a much wider footprint than they had before they pulled out of LA. Car2Go is more practical since the point is that you can leave them in a much wider variety of places.

  • murphstahoe

    Or just hitchhike the old fashioned way

  • stvr

    Totally agree about Car2Go. That’s the dream!

    Though in the cities where I’ve used Car2Go, it has its own issues. Cars flood into office districts in the morning, flood into residential districts at night. I could easily see all the Car2Gos flowing into the Westside by day and getting stuck there until 6 p.m. rolls around. Uber has no such problem.

  • stvr

    Also how many parking spaces does Zipcar have to lock down in each location to make this work? Seems you would need like 5x spaces as cars to meet inevitable surges in demand. It’s not like bike share where you can just bike a couple blocks to the next station. Also I foresee the same issue with Zipcar where cars flow to the Westside and then flow out.

  • David

    SF has one-way Scoot rentals, and LA has one-way Zipcar rentals. That about sums things up.

  • Chad

    It’s honestly a perfect service for someone like a college student who can’t afford to have a car on campus. Very easy to sign up, use my referral code!

  • baklazhan

    Scoot seems to have made it work in part because the scooters take up less room and in part because they allow them to be parked on the street (where legal).

    And, yes, these one-way systems don’t really work when they’re mainly used for commute-style journeys. They have to be used multiple times a day to be cost effective.


Metro and Zipcar Place Car-Share Cars At Metro Parking Lots

Last Friday, Metro and Zipcar announced a new partnership that places car-share vehicles at ten Metro station parking lots. The new program was announced via a press conference at the North Hollywood Red Line Station. Speakers included Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, Metro Boardmember Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Metro’s new CEO Phil Washington, and Zipcar […]

City Makes Space for Zipcars on Public Streets

Zipcar parked at Gramercy Park in NYC in 2006. Photo: NannyinNY/Flickr For car-sharing to every truly work, the cars used in the program need to be easily accessible to the members who have access to rent them.  To that end, the City Council has cleared out 10 parking spaces near USC and UCLA to pilot […]

Streetsbloggers Write on Future of Car Sharing in LA

The following letter will be faxed to all the members of the City Council Transportation Committee.  The letter is a compilation of reader comments to an article asking for people’s opinions whether or not the city should set aside dedicated parking for car sharing programs. Given the success of this article, expect others soliciting reader’s […]

Transport U: Mode Shift at MIT

This is the third installment in Streetsblog’s series on transportation demand management at American colleges and universities. Part one gave an overview of TDM techniques that schools employ, and part two profiled Stanford’s TDM programs. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a long track record of trying to minimize traffic. The Institute has run a formal transportation […]