Cabbin’ Fever: A guide to the city’s best vehicles for hire

Cabbin’ Fever: A guide to the city’s best vehicles for hire

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Michael Byers) Click to see a larger version. (Image: Michael Byers)
 

Nobody owns a car anymore. Well, okay, some people own cars, but they’re an endangered bunch, at least south of Bloor. As millennials snatch up condos in the core at a staggering rate (downtown’s population has grown by 20 per cent in the last 10 years), the rite of auto ownership, once a milestone commensurate with getting hitched or having kids, has slipped right off the priority list. When walking’s not an option, urban families are availing themselves of Uber rides, car-share subscriptions and other swipe-and-go services that make sense in a city where it’s sometimes tricky to move your arms, let alone parallel park an SUV. In fact, last spring, a new build on University Avenue became Toronto’s first parking-free condo building. In place of a sprawling concrete crypt, it has a handful of dedicated car-share slips—a fact that didn’t prevent 85 per cent of the units from selling out in nine days. The latest A-to-B options make going carless cheaper and easier than ever—provided you know when and how to use them. Here, a guide to the perfect ride for every type of traveller.

1
For Weekend Warriors
Who wants to lug a two-four home on the streetcar? AutoShare is great for weekday transit users with giant weekend to-do lists. There are more than 175 pickup spots in the city—60 in condo parking garages—so members rarely have to hike far to find a Fiat for their grocery run or a truck big enough to haul a set of Billy bookcases. Autoshare.com.
Most popular plan: $29 sign-up fee, $45 monthly payment and hourly fees starting at $9.25.
2
For Aspiring VIPs
The Uber app charges fares (plus tips) straight to customers’ credit cards, making each transaction blissfully easy. Of the available tiers of service, Uber Black is the fanciest: leather seats, professionally licensed chauffeurs and, in some cases, complimentary breath mints and chilled bottled water. Uber.com.
5-km fare: $28.
3
For Extremely Light Travellers
Car2Go’s adorkable Smart cars can be puttered between 150 Green P lots dotted from Jane Street to Victoria Park and Eglinton to the lake, for less than 50 cents a minute. Car2go.com.
Cost: $35 sign-up fee, then $0.41 a minute, $15 an hour or $85 a day.
4
For Dice Rollers
UberX launched last fall, to the total dismay of Toronto taxi regulators. Drivers don’t have to be pros, so there’s no saying who’ll show up: a seasoned ex-chauffeur or a regular Joe with no sense of direction. Still, it’s one of the cheapest rides in town—assuming fares haven’t doubled (when demand is high, Uber hikes its prices). Uber.com.
5-km fare: $12.50.
5
For Tool-Arounders
BikeShare, the outfit formerly known as Bixi, maintains 80 downtown stations stocked with sturdy black cycles. Best for leisurely jaunts—the clunky bikes weren’t designed for speed. Bikesharetoronto.com.
Cost: $18 per month. The first 30 minutes of each ride are free; after that, prices increase from $1.50 to $7 per half hour.
6
For home-and-awayers
Since landing in Toronto almost a decade ago, Zipcar has inundated the city with its coupes, hybrids and other errand-running options. There are more than 200 depots in the GTA, making Zip a great get-around-town car. Big bonus: travellers can use their memberships in 43 U.S. states, plus Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid and Vienna. Zipcar.ca.
Most popular plan: $65 annual membership and hourly fees starting at $9.25.
7
For classic cabbers
Underappreciated fact: the Uber app can be used to hail and pay for regular cabs (Beck, Royal, Crown, etc.). Going with Uber Taxi guarantees fixed rates, but Uber automatically tacks on a presumptuous 20 per cent tip. If that seems extortionate, the pre-set percentage can be adjusted online. Uber.com.
5-km fare: $18.
8
For responsible boozers
When one post-work G&T snowballs into six, Drink and Dial’s designated-drivers-for-hire will show up anywhere in the GTA and ferry customers home in their own cars. It’s pricy but worth the splurge to avoid a hungover car-retrieving mission. 1-855-533-3425, drinkanddial.ca.
Cost: $80 for 20 km, then $2 per klick.