Of all the solutions put forward for reducing the impact of cars on our roads perhaps the one most frequently overlooked is renting.
While it is not THE answer – what is? – it ticks a fair few boxes. They include: no worries about insurance, parking, tax, maintenance or depreciation.
One of the surprising things is the volume of low-cost options and deals around if/when you get in on the swing of things.
I’m not saying it suits everybody but in an increasingly cramped urban environment especially, more people are beginning to realise it can be a serious resource.
Here are two cases I think give an idea of how flexible and potentially cost-effective renting can be. I must point out the interviews were arranged by Enterprise Car Rental Ireland so there is most definitely a vested interest at play.
But against that, I still think it is worth giving insight into the experiences of Lisa and Bruce.
Lisa Coen (pictured), is from Mayo, living in Dublin’s IFSC and working in publishing. She mainly gets around town on foot, using the Luas or other public transport.
“We don’t need an office; don’t need a car. Work is your where your laptop is. And your company/personal car is your rental. Your office is out and about talking to booksellers.”
Her work often takes her out of town. “So I rent a car from Enterprise.” Same thing if she’s visiting family: “If I rent a car it’s a two-and-a-half hour drive.” Otherwise it’s a train and taxi or someone has to pick her up.
And it’s the same with work out of Dublin. She might be at a small literary festival where “someone has to pick you up if you get a train and taxi which is often more expensive than hiring a car. It often happens you get chatting an interesting author and miss your bus”.
She reckons she hires 20 times a year for a day or a weekend. “We have a book coming out the end of March – doing launches in bookshops – so we will probably hire a car for a couple of days.”
For Christmas it’s a full week hire and there are weekends with family. Sometimes the cost is personal and sometimes she splits the bill with the company. “Or if I see a weekend deal (€15.99 a day for frequent renters – picked up and dropped home for free as usual) sometimes I might just do it because it is such good value.” She finds the price of insurance prohibitive.
Bruce Henry (pictured above) is Canadian but an Irish citizen now. He used to live in Galway after starting an events business in 2013. “We started organising a lot of hen parties and corporate team-building events. Then we started to get requests from all over the country.”
Before that he never needed to own a vehicle. Renting seemed like a good idea. He explains: “There were lots of events on a Saturday which meant I’d get the car for the Friday to pick stuff up and be ready. I could zip out to Athlone; getting to Rosemount in Westmeath was difficult, but not with a rental car.”
He admits: “To go buy a car, insure it would have been hard on the pocket. Being able to hire when I needed it was efficient.
“Just being able to hand it back and not have to worry was great.
“It is a reason I was able to grow the business.”
The company has expanded to Dublin. “In 2016, I spent €2,500 on rentals. You’d spend that on insurance alone.”
His company is seven years on the go now but he still hires when he goes back to Galway.
“As long as insurance continues to be so expensive and public transport remains unreliable, I’ll rent when it suits.”
He lives in Castleknock, has an electric scooter and has lots of public transport options. “But I still hire a car. I have the Enterprise app.” And then there are the individual stories – the sort that copper-fasten loyalty.
Lisa was in London 18 months ago when told of an illness in her family. She had to get home quickly. “Before I got on the plane Enterprise (Russell St) organised so I could pick up a car at the airport. I was on the road very quickly. They remember your name and are so helpful.”
Bruce was flying home from Vancouver but missed the Toronto connection. He had lots organised in Galway for the day on which he was due to arrive. But everything was delayed. “I had a bus organised but I realised I wouldn’t have time. I rang Enterprise. By the time I got my bag (off the carousel), Alan from Enterprise told me to “get to the car rental hub”. Alan had him on the road in five minutes.
Bruce rents 30/40 times a year – which seems a lot. But he argues: “If I owned a car my biggest fear would be it breaking down. I don’t have to worry.”
Renting doesn’t suit everyone. But it seems to have its merits.
* What do you think? Would you rent?