WeCar program membership grows in sophomore year
The car-sharing program reduces traffic and helps improve the environment.
Sep. 30, 2011
Car ownership in college can be difficult. A car owner must have insurance, find money for gas, prepare for any car emergency and somehow find a parking space close to campus. Sometimes, completing those tasks are not possible, and riding a bike to Walmart and back can be dangerous.
The WeCar program provides a non-bike alternative to car ownership.
By teaming up with Enterprise car rental service, the WeCar program allows students to rent a car whenever the need strikes them. This year, WeCar shares four cars, two of which park behind Memorial Union and two of which park in front of the MU Student Center, that service 80 students and faculty members.
“What we really liked about Enterprise’s WeCar system was that they allowed students under 21 years of age to rent a car,” Student and Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said. “Other car companies that had a ride-share program didn’t have that feature.”
Because WeCar is run by Enterprise, it doesn’t cost the university anything other than those four parking spaces, which were provided by MU Parking and Transportation Services.
Froese said Enterprise data showed users of the WeCar service were, as a whole, averaging around 500 hours per month.
One such user is Freshman Interest Groups Coordinator Patricia Fowler. She was one of the first people to sign up after moving within walking distance of the campus.
“I wanted to shrink my carbon footprint,” she said. “I moved to within a mile and a half of my job, sold my personal car and now I’m using the extra money to renovate my home.”
On top of an annual fee, WeCar users must also pay for the amount of time they use the cars. Any amount of time rented comes with 200 free miles and any miles over that limit is charged.
Although Fowler generally bikes or walks, she said WeCar can also be helpful during the winter months.
“During the big snowstorm last year, I was shoveling like everyone else,” she said. “Once things opened back up again, and after being confined to quarters for a few days, I just rented a WeCar for five hours and did all kinds of shopping.”
For all the benefits of WeCar, a small number of students actually know about it.
Such an example is freshman Max Unterreiner, who does not have a car or bike on campus and had never heard of the program. He said he can definitely see the benefits of the program.
“It’d be nice to have a car you don’t necessarily have to be responsible for all the time,” he said.
But even rental cars can have technical issues.
“During the winter months, the hybrid cars don’t hold their charge,” Fowler said. “When that happens, you just have to call tech support and they’ll send someone out to jumpstart it. You just need to be prepared for those kinds of things.”
Still, she said there are also some perks to driving a car that simply cannot be beaten.
“I do love the stereo systems in the cars,” Fowler said. “Bikes just don’t have them. I love to listen to music.”