Car-less Part I: Why Mizzou Students Don’t Need Cars at School

Everyone needs a car right? You’re important and you have places to be and your car is necessary to get you there. You need a car to drive home for the holidays or to Walmart to get groceries once a week. With a couple of programs Mizzou has on campus, it’s not actually true that you need your own car to do these things.

In this series I’ll have the answers to all your going Carless questions. Are you making your weekly run to the store or taking a short weekend trip within Missouri? WeCar has your back. Looking for a way home for the Holidays? Try car pooling your way home. Student Ride Board provides you with a way to connect with others traveling in the same direction as you. What’s it really like to live Carless? I’ll talk to someone who has done it for over two years.

Today I’ll start by giving you all the answers you need to use the WeCar program!

You’re in college, you don’t have much money, so your first question is obviously going to be what’s the cost?

WeCar is actually fairly inexpensive, especially considering that AAA says the average person spends well over $9,000 per year on expenses for their car. For Mizzou students a WeCar membership costs $35 per year, plus $8 an hour or $7 per day (add a dollar  if you would rather your car be a hybrid). Keeping the car over night will only set you back $30 ($35 for hybrids). There is also a $0.35 per mile cost added if you drive more than 200 miles.

“But gas is soo expensive!” you might say, “won’t I need to pay to fill the car up too??”

Nope! WeCar pays for the gas with a nice little gas card kept in the glove box. Just use the card to fill up if the car gets bellow 1/4 of a tank.

Who actually uses WeCar? Lots of people and it’s growing!

I spoke with Libby Pugliese, a Mizzou student, who uses the WeCar program regularly.

Libby said she typically uses WeCar to travel for field work observation hours she must complete as a student majoring in education. She also uses WeCar for occasional errands.

I asked Pugliese how easy it is to use WeCar:

“The WeCar program is a very easy program to use. All you do is go on the website, pick the time you need to rent out the car and push reserve. When that time arrives, all you do is swipe your [membership] card over the sensor [located by the windshield] and the doors unlock, so yes it is very easy.”

She did, however, say there was one draw back to WeCar:

“If you are over 15 minutes late to your scheduled pick up time, your card will not work and you will still be charged for the rental plus 5 additional dollars for late cancellation which is an inconvenience and an annoyance. This would be the one thing I would improve about the program.”

Pugliese said she would recommend the program to anyone with short term transportation needs not filled by bicycles or busses. She was also supportive of the idea of there being more programs like WeCar:

“This program should be more common!! It’s so easy to use and it helps cut down pollutants in the air. Also, it relieves traffic because the carpool kind of style that WeCar promotes.”

I also spoke with Pat Fowler, the Coordinator for Mizzou’s FIGs and TRIGs programs. Pat says she was one of the first staff members to get a WeCar membership in the summer of 2010. This was a year after she moved to downtown Columbia and sold her car in an effort to have a smaller carbon footprint and a healthier lifestyle that includes bicycling and walking to work.

“WeCars are not problem free, but the customer support people are kind and thoughtful.” Pat said.

“In the winter months I rent a car once or twice a month to go shopping, to the doctor or any place I can’t get to on Columbia Transit.  I’ve been stuck once or twice in the winter when the batteries were dead.  I once called ahead to the local Enterprise office to let them know that I was planning on reserving a car, and since it was semester break, would he come by and charge the battery?  They did it the first time, after that I’d have to call for a credit to my account,  move my appointment, and come back another time.”

Pat was also quite knowledgeable about the insurance cost of driving a WeCar (because you do need insurance to drive any car):

“If you are still on your parent’s policy, there is a $1000 deductible for collision.  For me, I have a non owner policy with USAA for which I pay $15.00 month.  This provides me with the same liability coverage I carried when I owned an automobile.  My collision deductible is still $1000, but my liability is covered by me, where as the average student would rely on their parent’s policy for liability.”

This is significantly cheaper than owning and insuring your own car. Non-owner insurance policies also ensure that you are covered if you’re driving a friend’s car.

Pat loves WeCars pointing out that they “are easier than having to keep a car clean, or pay for gas, or pay for repairs.” She said one thing she misses about not having a car is listening to the radio, so she likes to crank it up whenever she rents a WeCar. Her favourite WeCar memory was when Missouri experienced Snowmageddon, this March:

“Feb 3rd, the first day we were permitted out on the roads, I rented a WeCar for 5 hours, I had to leave it in the middle of the street to unload it, and then carry my stuff over the snow bank to get to my house.”

So there you have it! WeCar is a great way to save money, save the environment, and have a good time! Stay tuned for the next segment in my Carless series where I’ll tell you about programs that help you get home for the breaks without owning your own car.

For further information about WeCar go to their website. Their FAQ page is particularly helpful about answering any question you might have.

Mizzou Students can click here for a WeCar membership application if you’re sold on the program.

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