The University of Saskatchewan’s Office of Sustainability is launching Saskatoon’s first car share program, WeCar.
As of Sept. 14 there will be two new Ford sedans available on campus for rent to the public on an hourly basis.
Heather Truman, sustainability initiative liaison for the sustainability office, believes the introduction of a car sharing program at the U of S is a key step in reducing the number of high-emitting forms of transportation on campus and city-wide.
An issue for the university is that “everybody driving to campus alone in a vehicle is the least sustainable way for staff and students to get to campus,” Truman said.
WeCar aims to decrease the number of vehicles driving to and from the university at the beginning and end of each day by giving staff and students the option of renting a car for an hour or two.
“A lot of people drive alone and park on campus because they need their car to go to a meeting, to run an errand or to go to an appointment,” Truman said. “If people knew they could book a vehicle to be used to do those things while they’re here during the day people would no longer think, ‘I absolutely have to have my car.’ ”
To use an alternate form of transportation but still drive during the day may seem environmentally ineffective. But it can be less costly than all the expenses of owning a car.
When using WeCar, members do not have to purchase the vehicle nor do they pay for maintenance, fuel or the car’s insurance.
“For people who don’t have a car but are at the, ‘Do I want to buy one’ stage, this is a tremendous alternative,” Truman said.
Parking and transportation services did a survey of students who bought student parking passes and found that many students from out of town would drive to campus, park their vehicle and use it less than once a month.
While researching car sharing for the university, Truman said she found that it is cheaper for students to use WeCar if they drive between 8,000 and 12,000 kilometres a year.
Car sharing also benefits the U of S by reducing the number of vehicles on campus and by opening up space in parking lots.
“Helping promote these programs saves us money over time,” parking and transportation manager Judy Wall said. “Building parking lots and keeping parking stalls at a university is expensive. We can come up with other ways to get people here and use alternative forms of transportation.”
Normally car rental agencies have age restrictions on anyone under the age of 21. However, the program has been tailored for the U of S to allow 18- to 20-year-old students to take part in the program.
One of the two vehicles has a permanent stall in the U Lot near Seager Wheeler Hall while the second can be found in the parking lot between the PAC and the Faculty Club.
Starting Sept. 19, there will be a WeCar ambassador in the Arts Tunnel every Wednesday where memberships and information will be available. Both car bookings and memberships are available online at WeCar’s website.
Graphic: Samantha Braun/The Sheaf