Car-sharing pilot program to begin at MU

Students and faculty will be able to rent cars on campus.
Virginia Avenue Garage remains filled with vehicles, even in the less-crowded summer months. The WeCar car sharing program encourages fewer students to bring cars to campus in order to free up parking space.

MU will welcome an eco-friendly car-sharing program called WeCar in the fall.

WeCar provides its members with an inexpensive alternative method of transportation, while decreasing the number of cars on the road.

“Discussions have been going on for a couple of years,” Student Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said. “We evaluated similar programs and WeCar was the best one. The contract was signed just about a month ago.”

Due to a collaboration between the Missouri Students Association, the Graduate Professional Council, the Missouri Student Unions, MU Parking and Transportation Services and the MU Sustainability Office, students, faculty and staff will have the option to reserve cars for personal use throughout the academic year.

“WeCar is a convenient service we can offer for our campus,” Froese said. “It offers good rates for students who want driving to be affordable and makes it much more convenient to get off campus for shopping or to take a short trip home.”

According to the WeCar website, MU will have two hybrid vehicles and two sedans. Its users pay an annual membership fee of $35 plus $8 per hour or $56 per day for sedans and $9 per hour or $63 per day for hybrid sedans -- fuel included. For every mile over 200 miles, 35 cents is charged.

Along with the above costs, additional fees are charged for smoking in the vehicle, returning it late or to the wrong place, leaving it dirty or unlocked, forgetting the parking permit and leaving the fuel tank below a quarter of a tank.

“Most of the WeCar-using institutions in the first year have not used more than four or six cars,” Parking and Transportation Services Director James Joy said. “These first couple of years are more of a trial period to see how well it’s received.”

Froese said the four vehicles will be available on the MU campus in convenient locations for users. Possibly, two vehicles will be located by the student center, one by southwest housing and one by College Avenue. To become a WeCar member, a student can sign up online; his or her information will be processed within a few days. Afterward, each member will need to schedule an orientation where he or she will receive a membership card, ID number and handbook, detailing the rules and regulations all members must follow in order to use one of the vehicles.

The process of reserving a vehicle is entirely automated online. Customers can book a car at any time in 15-minute increments with a one-hour minimum of use. Students 18 to 20 years of age are eligible to use this service for no cost but must show proof of insurance, and users 21 and older pay a $500 deductible for limit collision. Enterprise Holdings, the corporate parent of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company, owns and operates WeCar. Including Missouri, schools in 12 states have established the program since the pilot program began in 2007.

“It’s important to experiment on something that may in fact make everything work more successfully in the future,” Joy said. “For many students who bring their cars, WeCar will not have an effect, but for some students and parents who do not think they need a vehicle 24/7, (they) will have access to one when they need it.”

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