I live in San Francisco, which has a great public transportation system. A bus stop is literally 50 yards away from my building. Cars that provide ride-hailing services are abundant, and I use them. I have a home office and no commute, and my husband walks or bikes. My neighbor listed his private car for rent on Turo, a website that allows people to share their cars, and it’s usually parked 10 feet from the door of my building.
Despite all this, I own my own car, an underutilized subcompact that gets taken out about three times per week. My reasoning for keeping it may sound familiar to fleet managers: the convenience of not having to rent out a car when I need one, low operating and maintenance costs, and the hassle of selling it and then buying a new vehicle when I anticipate I’ll need it more often.
How do fleet managers solve this problem, of people like me who don’t think about depreciation and refuse to give up their car because it’s inconvenient to take a cat carrier or a guitar on the bus?
Increased Mobility Options
We live in an age of increased mobility solutions, and the way we move around is in the process of some major changes. Despite all the advances and new options we have, we still like to keep our own cars.
At the Fleet Forward Conference in October, there was a focus on carsharing. In a session, Kevin Myose from San Joaquin County, Calif., said he was able to get up to four trips from one vehicle in a single day in his carshare (motor pool) program. In the past, that could have been four cars in four different departments.
But even a strong sharing program can’t solve all your problems. Another public fleet manager at the conference talked about his desire for riders to determine the best option when traveling. Renting a fleet car out for a full day when it’s mostly just sitting parked may appear to be the cheapest option, but it’s not the most efficient in terms of utilization — that vehicle can be checked out multiple times by other drivers instead. He also mentioned that he wanted to set up a contract with ride-hailing apps so that user departments could be directly billed for employee rides, to simplify transportation even more.
Of course, for employees whose main focus is not on fleet, they likely won’t think about the utilization of these vehicles. They have other jobs to do, and they’ll likely just follow the policy.
What’s the Solution?
How do you explain that saving $2 per ride adds up, when department heads care more about having a vehicle available at all times so their staff members can do their jobs? After all, if it takes an employee 30 minutes to check out the vehicle, including reservation, pickup, and return, what’s that 30 minutes worth to the department head?
Is education the solution — to continually explain to managers and drivers how underutilization and having extra assets is a waste of money? Is it to work from the top down, to create a fleet reduction target with elected officials and executives to make sure underutilized vehicles are removed? Is it to create a tool that drivers can use to determine whether they should rent a fleet vehicle, take their own car, or use an outside rental company?
I’m not sure, but one of the articles in this issue points out a solution for fleet reduction that sounds doable: don’t penalize those who give up their vehicles and later determine they need them back.
Do you have a solution to improve mobility in a cost-effective way? Or can you convince me to get rid of my car?