What is Switzerland’s car-sharing scheme and how you can benefit from it
Say you don’t own a car in Switzerland, but still want to drive from time to time. You can, and it's all based on the principle of sharing.
There may be many reasons why you don’t have a car in Switzerland. Perhaps you don’t need a full-time vehicle and the hassle that comes with it, such as finding a place to park if you a city dweller.
Or maybe you want to avoid the costs of owning and maintaining a car — including the high cost of petrol.
Last but not least, you may be worried about the impact gasoline and diesel fuel have on the environment, preferring to use public transport instead.
Whatever the reason, car ownership may not be your thing. Yet, there might be times when you do need a vehicle for a short trip but don’t want to use conventional rental services.
Then car-sharing is right up your alley.
The main idea behind the concept is to ‘hire’ a car for a brief stint and return it afterwards — either to the same place where you took it or to another station within the network.
The largest and one of the most popular schemes is called Mobility, which is a nationwide, rather than regional service, with nearly 3,000 vehicles that can be picked up and dropped off at 1,500 locations across the country.
One of the advantages of this particular service is that, thanks to a deal it has with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), you can pick up a Mobility car at many train stations; membership in the scheme can also be combined with a SBB TravelPass.
For instance, holders of a SBB general or half-price travel card qualify for Mobility annual membership at a reduced rate.
How does this system work?
Mobility is a member-based system, so the first step is to join the scheme.
If you are not sure whether this setup will work out for you long-term, you can sign up for a trial, four-month subscription for 43 francs, plus additional fees.
Once you have either a trial or regular membership, you can download a Mobility app on your smartphone, which you can use to book your car.
This is very handy as you can open and lock the vehicle via a Bluetooth using the app.
More information can be found here.
What are the advantages of car-sharing?
The main one is clear: if you don’t own a car, you nevertheless have a quick access to a set of wheels whenever and wherever you need them.
Another selling point is flexibility: you don’t need to schedule or plan to get a vehicle in advance, as you have to do in case of conventional rental.
Also, Mobility cars often have their own designated parking spaces at train stations, so that's an added convenience.
What about the ‘con’s’ of the scheme?
Car-sharing is not necessarily cheap, though not nearly as expensive as owning a vehicle.
Cost varies from one company to another, and also based on the type of car you choose, but in Mobility’s case it is 129 francs a year; additionally, you pay 2 francs per hour and .55 cents per kilometre driven.
These rates include insurance, fuel, servicing, and repairs.
It goes without saying that you are responsible for paying for any parking or speeding fines you may get while driving around in a vehicle that belongs to a car-sharing scheme.