Car Share grows

Grand River Car Share is hoping to make that mysterious, perpetually empty spot in Wilfrid Laurier University’s parking lot the home to one of its newest vehicles during the coming months with recent changes to its membership policy.

The non-for-profit car sharing cooperative has called Waterloo Region its home since 1998, but for insurance reasons, was not allowed to accept members under the age of 23 until this past spring.

Now, the car share will accept members as young as 21 years old, provided they have a G Class license and a clean driving abstract.

Member services coordinator, Matthew Piggott is hopeful the new regulations will attract younger users to the car share program.

Once there are enough users in an area, the program purchases another vehicle. The designated spot in Laurier’s parking lot marks what Piggott calls a “future” spot.

“This says ‘don’t park here’ but where we don’t have a car yet, it says ‘future station, join today,’” Piggott said. “The real barrier around here was the age limit, now it’s down to 21, we think that most students will at least have a chance to join.”

In April, Grand River Car Share also added a mid-range pricing plan to its structure and now features classic, regular and simple pricing plans. Each plan includes a one-time application, key and loan fee; either a monthly or yearly membership fee, and an hourly fee.

The least expensive plan — titled “simple” — costs just $50 in one-time fees and $40 per year, but $10 per hour. For students wishing to use a car for two hours per week, that averages out to $87.50 per month. The price includes maintenance and gas, making it significantly less expensive than car ownership.

Emily Mallinson, a fourth-year English major at Laurier likes the idea of the car share,  but thinks even the simple plan may still be too cost prohibitive for many students.

“[The Car  Share parking spot is] prime real estate and it might almost be worth it just to be able to park there,” she laughed.

“It’s not too bad if you consider what’s included, but still for a student, it’s probably not a viable option really.”

Mallinson said the Grand River Transit bus pass included in WLU student fees would also deter the extra expense of becoming a member of the cooperative.

However, according to Piggott, “When someone joins a car sharing organization they drive, on average, 50 per cent less [than with car ownership].”

The extra thought that goes into making the choice to drive due to the hourly cost helps to keep cars off the road and pollution down.

An added bonus to using the service is the use of a new cargo van, which Grand River Car Share has recently added to its fleet. Piggott said students would find their service more attractive than other rental places.

Although the fleet is growing, for now, Laurier’s spot remains empty.

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