WeCar arrives at MU

Thursday, August 26, 2010 | 5:37 p.m. CDT; updated 5:54 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 26, 2010
A new Toyota Prius in the Memorial Union parking lot, one of four cars available for rental at MU.

COLUMBIA — WeCar hit MU with two Toyota Priuses, a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Focus ready for rental on Aug. 18.

The program lets MU students, faculty and staff rent cars on campus. The goal is to help reduce emissions and crowding caused by traffic, according to WeCar's website.

“WeCar’s pilot program was established at Washington University, right here in St. Louis,” said Lisa Martini, a representative from St. Louis-based Enterprise Holdings, the company behind the WeCar program. The company began business-to-business car sharing with Google in California and quickly realized that universities had the same needs in hourly car rental.

"It has been a very good relationship in the program," said Meghan Maguire, another representative at Enterprise, referring to the expansion of WeCar onto university campuses.

There are about 20 programs in place nationwide, including campuses such as the University of Southern Florida, Tulane University and Oklahoma State University. Plans are in the works to add roughly 12 other locations, Martini said.

Steve Burdic, MU sustainability coordinator, said the program is "a convenient alternative to owning a car on campus."

But he also sees it as a step toward making campus carbon neutral.

"This is a pilot project for MU," he said. "If it goes well, we’ll probably add more.”

Here are the facts for would-be car renters:

  • MU has four cars, two each at two locations: University Bookstore and Memorial Union
  • Gas is included in the rental rate of $8 per hour for the Fords and $9 for the Priuses. Each car comes with a gas card, and each member (you must join WeCar to rent) is expected to refill the tank if it's less than one-quarter full.
  • Memberships are for each WeCar "dedicated site." MU members must register again if they want to rent in St. Louis or any other campus or city site.
  • There is a one-hour minimum and a 24-hour maximum on every rental.
  • To get things going, WeCar is offering a $35 driving credit to the first 50 applicants, waiving the $20 application fee and reducing the $50 membership fee by 30 percent. (That’s about four hours of almost-free driving for either the sedan or the hybrid.)
  •  The car must be returned to its assigned parking spot.

The cars are already being put to use.

“A lot of freshman signed up during their Summer Welcome visits,” said Joe Hayes, Missouri Student Unions assistant director.

Enterprise representatives will be outside the new MU student center signing students up for memberships for the rest of the week. Applications can also be found on the Missouri Student Unions website.


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