Puerto Rico’s transportation landscape could add peer-to-peer car rental services
Puerto Rico’s often complicated transportation landscape could see the arrival of what’s known as peer-to-peer car rental services, through which individuals are able to post their vehicles on an app and let others use them for an hourly or daily fee.
Earlier this month, New Progressive Party Rep. Carmelo Ríos sponsored a resolution at the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), of which he is past president, that calls on state legislatures and the federal government to “enact legislation, including insurance legislation, that supports and enables individuals to participate in peer-to-peer car sharing,” among other actions.
In an interview with News is my Business, the lawmaker confirmed that he will take steps to submit legislation to create the infrastructure for these platforms to offer their technology in Puerto Rico, quite possibly by year’s end.
“I’m looking at model legislation that was submitted in other states to do it here. But it’s happening,” he said.
“Technology has surprised all of us in a way I never would have thought of, so much so that through a phone app you can order food, a taxi and other services,” he said. “Peer-to-peer car rentals presents the possibility to give someone who has a car parked all day to be able to make money from renting it out.”
“We all have that one friend who asks to borrow our car in exchange for putting gas in it. This is very similar,” said Ríos, adding that opening the door to the arrival of peer-to-peer car rental services in Puerto Rico would also give people living in rural areas, where there may not be traditional car rental companies, to have access to vehicles when they need them.
“I think about people needing pick-up trucks, for example. Not everyone has access to one when they need to move or carry something large. Maybe a person nearby does, and that’s a solution for them,” he said.
One key issue that the lawmaker has to look at is insurance coverage. He said providing that service has to entail broad participation from the market, with the issue of costs at the forefront.
“Car rentals will offer you insurance for $30 a day, for example. But that’s not viable for this type of service,” he said.
Ultimately, if the peer-to-peer car rental services debut in Puerto Rico, their oversight would fall on the Puerto Rico Public Service Commission.
The peer-to-peer service community spans all sorts of properties, from homes to equipment to vehicles. Through a mobile app, the owners of those types of assets can connect with people who want to rent them, while relying on the platform to provide insurance and support to ensure a secure transaction.
At present, there are many companies that run platforms to encourage peer-to-peer car rentals, namely Getaround, Turo, Maven, and HyreCar. Their direct competitors are the established, traditional car rental companies.
Pablo Benavente, senior political and government relations manager at Turo confirmed that adding Puerto Rico to their platform is on the radar, and “we will definitely work with the Legislature when the time comes.”
Turo is one of the most popular services, with a car rental community of hosts across 7,500 cities in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It has a portfolio of 1,300 vehicle makes and models that people can rent starting at $25 per day. The company offers its participating partners insurance coverage of up to $750,000 through Travelers.
“As a member of Turo’s government relations team and also of the Latino community, I am thrilled to see this innovative and inclusive policy come to life,” said Benavente, following the approval of the resolution. “We applaud Sen. Ríos and all the NHCSL members for taking this cutting-edge step ensuring Latinos can continue removing barriers of car ownership and mobility with peer-to-peer car sharing platforms like Turo.”
While he said Turo does not yet have a defined timeline to enter the Puerto Rico market, the resolution that Ríos promoted “is the build-up to perhaps launching the service locally. There is interest there to expand the peer-to-peer car leasing services into Puerto Rico.”
Participating in a service like Turo’s “empowers Puerto Ricans to put money back in their pockets and really creates transportation options for Puerto Rico, some of whom are living in mobility deserts. It really is a win-win situation,” Benavente said.
A study conducted by profit organization Business Leadership on Gender Equality Today for a Just and Sustainable Tomorrow found that low-income and underserved communities benefit more from the sharing economy simply because the cost of ownership for things like cars and vacation homes is so high for those communities.
“With more reliable and affordable transportation options, low-income neighborhoods and marginalized communities have the potential for greater economic opportunities,” the study notes.