The sharing economy is on the rise in the Twin Cities – and Metro Transit is playing a role in its growth.
Writing for Thirty Two Magazine, Jessica Conrad tells the story of how HOURCAR, Nice Ride and other shared services are changing people's travel habits and the local economy.
Metro Transit bus driver Alec Johnson, who has incorporated Nice Ride into his daily commute, provides a fitting anecdote for the piece. Johnson uses a Nice Ride bike to get to Metro Transit’s Nicollet Garage in Minneapolis and again to get home again after finishing his day at the Uptown Transit Center.
“It’s not uncommon for me to use Nice Ride a few times a day, mixed in with a bus ride or two,” Johnson, 32, says in Thirty Two Magazine’s piece, The next new economy, published at MinnPost.com. “Bike sharing has revolutionized my life. I don’t know how I lived without it.”
Like Nice Ride, the car-sharing service HOURCAR works in tandem with Metro Transit buses and light rail to offer residents more mobility.
HOURCAR program manager Christopher Bineham said transit is "absolutely essential" and the "number one thing that needs to happen to make car sharing possible."
"The reason that HOURCAR can exist is because there is a transit system," Bineham said. "The transit system is really the backbone."
Among the locations where residents can find Nice Ride, HOURCAR and Metro Transit in the same place is 46th Street Station, on the METRO Blue Line. Additional Nice Ride and HOURCAR locations can be found on Metro Transit's Interactive Map.
It's the interplay between such services that leads Conrad to conclude the sharing economy is more than just a "flash in the pan or a niche that only serves the well-to-do" but is instead a movement "capable of growing a community in a profound way.”