Courtesy: HourCar

Everyone I interviewed about Evie assured me that the process of reserving and driving a car was easy. That seemed vague, so I signed up to try it out myself. The verdict: It is exceptionally easy. 

Once you’ve registered with the system, the app opens to a map showing the location of available cars. Clicking on your choice reserves the car for 15 minutes (one potential hitch: it’s conceivable that it will take longer than 15 minutes to get to the car). 

Once you arrive at the driver’s side door, the app magically unlocks it. I haven’t driven a Chevrolet in 25 years, but adjusting the seats, mirrors and air conditioning was self-explanatory. And when at first I couldn’t shift into drive, a message popped up on the screen prompting me to press a button I’d overlooked. 

The pickup in electric cars far surpasses the acceleration of traditional gas-guzzlers (enough that you may want to pay special attention to the speedometer). 

For me, the best part is the parking ability once you reach your destination. Since I was driving to work downtown, I got to skip the usual parking lot search and hop out at a meter just around the corner from the office – parking fees don’t apply to Evie and HourCar. Exiting the car required a one-click assessment of the car’s interior cleanliness and another click to end the trip.

Total bill at my income level: $23.55, 29 minutes to get there plus 7 minutes walking, 38 minutes to get home

Taking a bus would have cost a total of $4.50, and taken 1 hour and 4 minutes plus 10 minutes walking to get there, 1 hour and 3 minutes plus 10 minutes walking to get home

Parking my own car would have cost $5, plus gas and a small amount of wear and tear on the car and taken 29 minutes to get there plus 5 minutes walking, 38 minutes to get home plus 5 minutes walking

*A phone is not required to use Evie, although users must have a debit or credit card. To use a car without a phone, users call Member Services for the location of a car and access the vehicles with a Metro Transit GoTo Card. 

**When I left the car, I noticed some information cards. One noted that you can’t end a trip outside of the home zone, though it was unclear from the cards what the home zone was. A quick call to the info line assured me I’d parked in the right spot. (Calls can be translated into five languages.)

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Sheila Mulrooney Eldred writes stories about health equity for Sahan Journal. As a freelance journalist, she has written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, FiveThirtyEight, NPR, STAT News and...