Student transportation options expand

Laurier now has a student car share (Photo by: Ryan Hueglin)
Laurier now has a student car share (Photo by: Ryan Hueglin)

Students at Wilfrid Laurier University now have access to a car share program that is geared specifically toward their demographic.

Laurier is one of 16 universities and colleges across Ontario and Québec that the Student Car Share program was launched at this September.

The program is available to students over the age of 18 who have the appropriate licensing and require access to a vehicle from time-to-time.

CEO and spokesperson for Student Car Share, Michael Lende, explained, “Students can pay a small fee of $50 per year to be a member of Student Car Share and then only $8 per hour for the times when they actually need a car. It is convenient and very affordable.”

Once students have signed up as members, they are provided with a personal card that grants them entry into the vehicle following their reservation of it. These reservations are completed online or using the Student Car Share mobile application.

The service itself provides students with a Kia at their disposal, complete with roadside assistance and insurance coverage, with fuel and maintenance costs covered.

So far, Lende has been thrilled with the student response to the program, in particular with the frequency of usage of the Waterloo fleet.

She explained that many students were looking to use a vehicle for only a few hours to run errands such as going to the laundromat or the grocery store, or even carpool home for a weekend.

“We were expecting the program to be successful,” said Lende, “but this service was more in demand than we really thought.”

Out of 16 universities, Laurier and the University of Waterloo’s student usage ranked the Waterloo fleet of Kias at fourth place within the first six to eight weeks of operation.

“Students prove to be very responsible drivers because they know what is at stake for insurance costs if [an incident] happens.” said Lende.

“And, it turns out, this is a good chance for students to provide a good driving history from Student Car Share to an insurance company if they choose to make the step later on to buy a vehicle.”

However, some students remain hesitant to plunk down more money when their school tuition covers their yearly bus pass.

“It’s a good start up idea,” said Nidhi Sharma, a second-year business student. “But as a student with other [transportation] options, the cost is still a bit high.”

But Lende believes that these systems can work cohesively.

“We actually are very happy that students are choosing to use buses and bicycles,” explained Lende. “It means these students may require a vehicle for longer trips from time to time and that’s where we come in. This is a sustainable system and it gets excess cars off the road.”

“I would probably do it,” said Jane Thomson, a third-year communication studies student. “But it depends where you need to go, and timing. If you need to get all the way to the other end of Kitchener, the bus can take forever to get there.”

Continued student response over Ontario and Québec will tell in time whether Student Car Share is here to stay, or a venture better suited to the urban working class.

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