The latest share economy company hopes to eliminate Portlanders’ internal debate whether to wait on public transit, grab a cab to Portland International Airport, or drive themselves and pay the price for costly, long-term parking.
FlightCar’s company model is similar to the peer-to-peer carsharing company Relay Ride, but it’s meant specifically for airport comers and goers.
“People are looking for this kind of service, the cost savings,” said Deb Caron, a spokeswoman for FlightCar.
Instead of driving directly to the airport, drivers take their cars to the Holiday Inn parking lot starting Tuesday, where FlightCar has set up shop. After dropping off their keys, the car owners get a ride to PDX and won’t pay for parking. While away, someone coming into Portland will be able to use the car until their return. The owner is compensated by the company and their car is washed and vacuumed.
Caron said to ensure safety, FlightCar can only accept 2001 vehicles or newer, and they must have fewer than 150,000 miles. Rental rates are dependent on the car: Newer models with added features will cost more than a basic, older ride. Any car rented through the company is insured up to $1 million.
Portland will be the 12th city to host the carsharing program after major metro areas, like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and others.
The program isn’t for everyone, said Caron, but Pacific Northwesterners have seemed excited about share economy companies in the past.
“(FlightCar is) looking to go national in cities that are the most open to this concept,” she said.
The launches haven’t come without struggle The city of San Francisco sued FlightCar in 2013 for breaking car rental agency rules and bypassing fees that traditional transportation businesses have to pay to pick up at the airport.
Caron said at this point, FlightCar’s model hasn’t run into any issues with the city of Portland.
Michael Huggins with the Port of Portland said FlightCar has been working with Portland airport authorities to meet their requirements.
“We’re just treating them as if they were off-airport rental car company whose fleet comes from the public versus a commercial fleet operations that they would own and maintain,” said Huggins.