Need to rent a car? Prepare to wait awhile

Renting a car has become an exercise of frustration for some in Calgary.

With the city growing rapidly and people from all over the world travelling here on a daily basis, demand for vehicles is hot.

As a result, it can sometimes take hours for a customer to pick up some wheels, local car rental companies say.

“As the manager of Budget Car and Truck Rental at the Calgary International Airport, we see firsthand how chaotic it can get,” said Gagan Sarw in a recent interview.

“We have customers waiting every week, mostly on Saturdays because that’s our busiest day. Sometimes we’ll have customers waiting for hours because we have no cars to give them,” Sarw said.

From a business perspective, the car rental industry makes money by having its entire fleet on the road.

But consumers tend to feel a sense of frustration when they are forced to wait to receive a vehicle that they reserved weeks, or months in advance.

“Waiting three hours after a five-hour flight is very frustrating,” said Sarah Keith, a long-time customer of Thrifty Car Rental.

“If I reserve a vehicle months in advance, I expect to have a vehicle waiting for me when I arrive at my destination.

“Calgary is constantly growing and with that it seems we have a lot more people travelling than we did in the last four years,” said Tan Yuen, the manager of Thrifty Car Rental at the airport.

“There needs to be a proper solution to fix this problem because it seems like every week, every car rental has customers waiting for cars,” Yuen said.

“I’ve seen some wait for about five hours.”

With more renters than ever before and with no way to add vehicles, the car rental industry suffers from clientele having to deal with a massive shortage for now.

Waiting three hours after a five hour flight is very frustrating – Sarah Keith

That has drawn competition from companies like Car2Go, which offers clients one-way rentals in the downtown area.

Car2Go recently confirmed it now has 65,000 cardholders in Calgary, a total which rivals the company’s numbers in much larger centres in North America.

The city, meanwhile, recently approved the release of 380 new taxi plates, for use by cabs operating at night and on weekends, peak times for people seeking short-term transportation.

For some general information on rental cars, visit here.

About Kevin Gritton 2 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Kevin Gritton is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2014-2015 academic year.