By RANDALL P. LIEBERMAN
Palms West Monthly
Posted Oct. 28, 2012
WEST PALM BEACH — With today’s gas prices and floundering economy, local drivers are looking for any way they can to save a buck.
For those area residents who commute to work by public transportation or car pool, and may only need a car occasionally, a new short-term, car-sharing program may be just the ticket.
Organized by the City of West Palm Beach, this new and innovative program may allow some people to eliminate the need to maintain their own vehicle.
The City of West Palm Beach recently introduced the membership-based WeCar program, designed to accommodate people interested in renting a car for short periods of time, usually an hour or two.
WeCar is a division of Enterprise Rent-a-Car and is managed by the city’s South Florida Commuter Services division as part of its Transportation Management Initiative. The program is run in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation.
Philip Johnsey, senior server administrator for the Palm Beach County Information Technology Department, is one satisfied WeCar customer.
Johnsey, who rides a bus to work every day into downtown West Palm Beach from his home in Stuart, used the WeCar vehicle three times in the program’s first month of operation for a dentist’s appointment, a doctor’s appointment and an off-site work meeting.
“The WeCar is very convenient,” Johnsey said. “It’s always been available when I needed it. You just go down there, get the car, drive it, and be done with what you have to do. My errands downtown usually only last about an hour or two. And the support, which I had to call, was very good.”
To help spread the word and get more people interested in the WeCar program, special incentives are now being offered to new customers.
According to Ellen Ostrowksi, Transportation Management Initiative administrator for South Florida Commuter Services, special incentives include one year free annual membership in the WeCar program, ten free rental hours through July 2013 and free registration fees.
The incentives are available to commuters who vanpool, carpool, ride transit, bicycle or walk to work at least three times per week and are registered with South Florida Commuter Services.
Regular price for car rentals, which includes fuel and collision insurance, is $8 per hour ($11.20 with taxes and fees) on weekdays and $9 per hour on the weekends.
Daily rental is $66 on weekdays and $71 on weekends, with overnight rentals (6 p.m. to 8 a.m.) costing $40 on weekdays and $45 on weekends.
An added bonus of WeCar membership is that it also allows customers to reserve a car in the Miami area.
The WeCar vehicle used in the West Palm Beach program is a Toyota Prius hybrid, which is available every day around the clock.
“Through our South Florida Commuter Services Program, we are trying to promote people taking alternative modes of transportation,” Ostrowski said. “It’s an improvement to the environment to have less cars coming into the downtown area.”
The car is parked at 333 Evernia St., between Olive and Dixie, two blocks south of Clematis Street, in the southeast corner of the city’s Evernia parking garage. The location is conveniently served by the free West Palm Beach trolley service.
As for auto insurance, included in the rental is the minimum state liability coverage with a $500 deductible. A gas card, also included in the reservation, is in the glove box and allows the driver to pay for gas with 100 percent of the cost being picked up by WeCar.
After registering for the program, a new user will receive a membership card in the mail once the driver’s license and credit card have been verified. As a security measure, the ignition key times out during the rental, meaning you’ll have to use your membership card again to re-start.
Johnsey’s blog, where he details his experience using the WeCar, sums it up best. “If you need a car for short periods of time, definitely check out the WeCar. It’s very convenient and easy to use …
“Returning is just as easy. Unload all of your stuff, leave the keys in the glove box and hold your member card over the transponder and the car locks.”
To take advantage of the special WeCar incentive for commuters, call (800) 234-7433.
For more information on the WeCar program, or to see whether the car is available, go online to wecar.com.