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WeCar Car Sharing In Downtown St. Louis

September 13, 2012 Car Sharing, Featured 9 Comments

Whenever I pass by the designated WeCar (car sharing) parking spaces downtown (usually 10th @ Washington) I look to see if the WeCar is there or out being used. I don’t know the usage, but often the space is empty so the car is being used by a WeCar member.

ABOVE: A couple unloaded their purchases made shopping using a WeCar

Then last month I was almost home when I  stopped and snaped a picture of a couple unloading a WeCar from a shopping trip. I chatted with them briefly, they really enjoy having access to a car without having to own and pay for one 24/7/365. He was going to take up their purchases while she returned the car and walked back the 4/10th of a mile — six city blocks from 10th to 16th Street. They’d like to have a WeCar further west.

Per the WeCar downtown St. Louis page, six WeCars  are located near the following intersections:

  • 6th and Olive
  • 10th and Olive
  • Olive and Broadway
  • 9th and Olive
  • 10th and Washington
  • 7th and Olive

The farthest west are 10th & Olive and 10th & Washington. Along Olive there are five WeCars from Broadway (5th) to 10th — one per block. I’d think at least one between Tucker (12th) and 18th would do well. Perhaps WeCar looked at their membership and realized most live east of 10th, or those living west of Tucker don’t join because the WeCars are too far away?

A WeCar representative indicated via email they have adjusted car locations over the last four years based on customer feedback. Having one car per block along Olive works well, he said, but they’ll look again further west.

I’ve offered to help  find a suitable location west of Tucker. Since parking meters are tied to parking garage bonds it might get complicated but I know of space where metered parking can be added to make up for one WeCar space.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    For someone who lives near one of their designated locations, it looks like an interesting option, even for someone with disabilities: “WeCar is committed to providing mobility options for our customers with disabilities. Mobility devices including left hand controls with spinner knobs, left foot accelerators and pedal extenders are available at no additional charge. Due to the unique nature of WeCar’s services and the fact that mobility devices require installation, please contact a service representative by phone . . . to reserve a vehicle with such mobility devices. . . . 48 hours advanced notice is required.” Living near public transit is also likely a requirement, unless walking, biking and/or scootering provides enough mobility for most daily needs.

    Interestingly, WeCar’s posted rates vary by location. Downtown, they’re $8/hour, $60/day and $30 for overnight (6 pm – 8 am), including gas. At Wash U, they’re $5, $60 & $20. At Mizzou, they’re $8, $56 & $30. Some other colleges and universities have different weekday and (higher) weekend rates. A few locations have different rates for different vehicles. Obviously, this is based on supply and demand, likely combined with some sort of subsidy from each sponsoring group. And these rates obviously favor short-term, last-minute uses and users; Enterprise has a location at the Hyatt downtown that offers non-discounted daily rates starting at $25.61 (plus gas, taxes and LDW), way less than $60 a day!

    The real deciding factor for most people be monthly cost savings versus the hassles associated with reserving ahead of time and (not necessarily) having a convenient pick-up location. Having just acquired a (pretty nice) new car, I’m well aware of how much one costs – $400 monthly car payment, $2400 (mostly sales taxes) to register it for a year, $200 monthly for gas, $100 a month for insurance – it all adds up to something like $900 a month (or $30 a day), since we have “free” on- and off-street parking out here in southwest city.

    Yes, transit would be a lot cheaper, and yes, there are days when the car never leaves the driveway, but 5 or 6 days a week either my wife or I is using it, and usually it’s for more than 4 hours, the break point where it’s actually cheaper to own our own car (assuming $8/hour for a WeCar). If one or both of us had jobs where transit were a viable option (hours and locations are both very-poorly served, even though monthly passes would cost each of us only $72), that equation could change. But, for now, the best balance, for us, between time in transit and dollars spent remains our own vehicles. Still, it’s great to see WeCar be an option for someone who lives and works downtown and only needs a car for 4 – 8 hours a week, which could get their automotive costs down to less than $50 a week or $200 a month.

     
    • Transit and car sharing isn’t for everyone, but they’re perfect for some. For households with no car it’s great for those times when a vehicle is helpful. Also great for couples that have one car, for those times when both need to drive in opposite directions.

       
      • Eric says:

        Yeah, to expand on the last point, one important use of transit is to allow 2 car households to become 1 car households without sacrificing quality of life.

         
        • William Kruse says:

          That’s what we do. When my wife and I relocated to DC, I sold my truck and we only have her car. The ZipCar membership (same as WeCar), the Bike Share, and the Metro get me everywhere I need. Love it.

           
  2. Eric says:

    I wonder what the competitiveness of car sharing vs taxis is. Car sharing is cheaper because you avoid the driver’s labor (the biggest cost). Taxis are necessary for people without driver’s licenses. Taxis are probably more available, at least right now in St Louis.

     
  3. JZ71 says:

    WeCar is a subsidiary of Enterprise Car Rental. Its advantages are that gas is included in the rental charge and the one- or two-car locations along Olive MAY have a car within a block or two of where you are, when you want to use it (as you note, many times it’s not there). It’s also cheaper only if you need the car for an hour or two and won’t be late returning it. Enterprise, itself, has two rental locations downtown, one at 315 Chestnut (Hyatt) and one at 2233 Washington. If you need to rent a car for a day (more than 4 hours) or for the weekend ($10/day, $20-$30 total), their rates are much lower and their selection of vehicles (and the likelihood that they’ll actually have one when you need one) is much higher. Wouldn’t it make more sense just to plan on running all your errands / doing your grocery shopping on one day or over the weekend and just rent directly from Enterprise? (I can see the biggest advantage of WeCar would be for downtown employees who use Metro to commute to work every day, and need a car for 2-3 hours every now and then during the work day, and not downtown residents.)

     
    • Renting a car for a day, weekend or week isn’t as cheap when you factor in the cost of insurance. When you don’t own a car you don’t have any insurance so the optional coverage becomes required.

       
  4. tpekren says:

    I think choice is the winner here and for those either downtown and other locations where it is offered. My wife and I were able to go from 2 to 1 cars while living in Shrewsbury (Easy walk for my wife and I to metrolink if she found a need to get home from work in the afternoon or needed to get to/from airport). Not so much for our new home in the Bay Area, back to two cars and an extensive commute for me. Transit is simply not an reasonable option in terms of time. We also have kids which is simple a huge factor in decisions. I’m sure the couple above will think differently if or when they have a family.

     
  5. JZ71 says:

    Related – transit saves money: http://www.rtd-denver.com/RidersSave.shtml

     

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