Car sharing comes to campus

A new car sharing service at the U of S is being offered to the entire campus and city of Saskatoon to address the high financial and environmental costs of owning a car.

With the launch of WeCar on campus this fall, the U of S is pioneering the first car-share program in Saskatoon, said Heather Trueman, who works on sustainability initiatives in the Facilities Management Division (FMD).

Car sharing is a service that allows people to rent cars for a short period of time, usually in hour intervals. It has really taken off in a lot of larger cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Trueman explained.  The U of S program, run by Parking Services, is expected to be launched Sept. 14.

"This acknowledges that we need to provide more choices for commuting to and from campus. If people know they have access to a car for a short period of time, they might leave their own cars at home and either carpool, take the bus, bike or walk," she said adding it is also a great service for students living in residence who are without a car.

"We sent out an RFP and chose Enterprise (car rental company) to set up the WeCar service on campus," Trueman said. "We are starting with two cars, one parked by the PAC by the University Club and the other at McEown Park."

Getting into the driver's seat of one of the cars is easy: "You just have to sign up using a valid driver's license and student number if you're a student and you get a membership card," Trueman explained. "Then you book the cars online for when you want to use it."

Once the car is booked, users swipe the membership card over a sensor in the windshield to unlock the car doors and access the keys.

The fee is minimal, ranging from $6-10/hour depending on the package selected. "Faculty and staff pay a $5 application fee and their annual membership fee is waived. Students and other Saskatoon residents pay an annual $35 membership fee, which is offset with $35 in credit. Once signed up, members simply pay by the hour or by the hour plus kilometers according to the package they have chosen," Trueman said.

Promoting the program on campus is Edwards School of Business student Kayla Michalenko who began working with Enterprise as a co-op student.
"Kayla was hired to sign up people on campus. You'll find her in the Arts Tunnel and all around campus at events,  advertising the service and answering questions."

Getting the service underway, Trueman said, "is more than another transportation option. It is testimony that there is support to explore more sustainable transportation practices and choices at the university. It will be a success every time someone decides to leave their car at home and commute by other means because they have access to WeCar for a trip they need to make during their day. If we see car sharing take off in Saskatoon, then we know it is a success."

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