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Car sharing options growing fast in Vienna

Paul Gillingwater · 17 Jun 2014, 12:18

Published: 17 Jun 2014 12:18 GMT+02:00

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While Vienna's U-Bahn system is excellent, there are times when it isn't running -- like after 1 a.m. on a weekday.  And some parts of the city away from subway stations aren't necessarily the easiest to get to, without the arcane knowledge of bus routes and tram stops.

Given the high cost of owning and parking a car in Austria's largest city, it's good to see an increasing range of alternative options available for irregular journeys.

The traditional taxi ride is of course usually available, but fares aren't among the lowest in Europe, reflecting the costs of fuel and the driver.

Ride-sharing innovator Car2Go has recently increased its fleet of Smart cars to 800, the largest in the city.  The membership-based system - claiming at present 70,000 members in Vienna - allows its drivers to use a smartphone to find the nearest car, open its door with a smart card, and drive off to any other location within the city.  Once you park, just walk away and the car is available for someone else.

With its new Moovel partnership, Car2Go vehicles can be taken throughout most of western Europe, as well as providing an app for travel integration planning in Germany, and other countries in the future.  Since its launch in December 2011, Car2Go has logged more than 2.5 million journeys in Austria, and is the largest such service in the country, ahead of competitors including private car sharing Caruso site and the German Railway's Flinkster.

While the Smart cars operated by Car2Go are very fuel efficient and easy to park, they only have two seats, so some prefer to use Zipcar, a subsidiary of Avis Budget.  This is a program similar to Car2Go, but cars aren't just parked anywhere when you no longer need them -- instead, they should be returned to a specific parking location.

Another car sharing option is about to be introduced by Porsche Holdings targeting students in Vienna, called the "e-Up!"   This will allow students to rent an electric vehicle for short journeys around the city, and will be rolled out for general usage in 2015.  BMW are also considering introducing DriveNow, their own competing service, meaning that consumers will be spoiled for choice.

If you want a more personalized service, where the car will come to you, a controversial new service available in Vienna comes from Uber, the ride-sharing app.  Effectively a limousine service based on a payment platform, you can book a journey based on origin and destination, and rate the driver.  The Uber service has triggered transport strikes across Europe, as it is seen as a threat to the livelihood of taxi drivers.

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Of course, the more traditional approach is the Viennese Fiaker - but they usually control the route, so don't expect to be able to tell your driver a specific destination.

Finally, if you must go via subway in Vienna, it may be helpful for you to know that the cost of a subway ride will increase on July 1st from €2.10 to €2.20.   Gute Fahrt!

Paul Gillingwater (paul.gillingwater@thelocal.com)

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