Car sharing is coming to Florida Gulf Coast University. The school has partnered with WeCar by Enterprise – the car rental agency -- to offer two cars to be rented by the hour or day beginning next month.
The car sharing program adds to FGCU’s list of alternative transportation options. WeCar offers car rental to faculty, staff and, yes, even 18- to 21-year-old students -- a group that under most circumstances finds it difficult to rent a car.
Although the car sharing service doesn’t begin until mid-August, it’s already sparking interest and accepting members and reservations.
Madison Williams, an incoming freshman, was one of the first students to sign up for more WeCar information. She says the hourly rental service won’t stop her from bringing her own car to campus, but she might not drive it as often.
“It will be very convenient to just borrow one of their cars to just kinda get around if I need to and save my gas to go home,” says Williams. “Because I live like three and a half hours away. So I’m really interested in it.”
And, although faculty and staff are welcome to participate in the car sharing program—even encouraged by way of deeply discounted sign-up fees— Enterprise’s Dana Fuentes says WeCar is on campus mainly to benefit students.
“We really want to push the campus car sharing programs because they are popular with students,” says Fuentes. “It’s a solution to age restrictions on rental cars. Generally now, unless it’s for an insurance purpose, students who are under 21 are unable to rent a vehicle. So this would give them a program that if they didn’t own their car, they would still be able to get around town and go grocery shopping and things like that.”
FGCU’s sustainability coordinator Kathleen Crawford worked with student government and university administration for two years to help bring WeCar to campus. She says the school has a higher than average number of students living on campus without cars.
“Currently about 25% of our students come to campus without vehicles,” says Crawford. “I have to think that’s an economic reason. Students are able to pay for cars by the hour, which is much more economical than paying to have the ownership and maintenance and gas for their own vehicle.”
Student body president Peter Cuderman agrees. He says hourly car rental fits student government’s mission to help students while at the same time follows the university’s commitment to be green.
“It’s going to be a convenience factor as well as helping with sustainability because it’s going to promote for a carpool type of program,” says Cuderman. “And it’s really going to help students because it’s just another thing they’re not going to have to worry about. If they need to go run an errand or an emergency happens they have something that’s available for them to go right away.”
And in this case Enterprise’s Fuentes says being green might extend to the green in student wallets.
“It’s very cost effective,” says Fuentes. “A freshman on campus might not need a vehicle a whole day, or, you know, own a vehicle. They might just need to rent one to go to the store, go to dinner or something like that.”
Cuderman says the hourly rental comes with a bonus—gas is included in the price of the rental.
“It’s a great program because they’re not going to have to fill up gas or anything,” he says. “They pay their hourly fee and when they return their car they just make sure it’s clean and they’re good to go.”
The university hopes to eventually add more cars to the program.