CarShare waives big fee

  Campus Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA) is waiving the CarShare Vermont membership fee for 200 full-time UVM students, staff and faculty on a first-come, first-served basis.   As of Nov. 9, only 20 of the 200 students had taken up this offer, Annie Bourdon, founder and executive director for CarShare Vermont, said.   CarShare Vermont is a car sharing service that gives members access to a fleet of ten vehicles located around the City of Burlington, which they can use whenever and for however long they would like.    The company plans to add three vehicles to the fleet in 2012, including one at Spinner Place in Winooski, Bourdon said.   Members can be as young as 18 and, barring any egregious driving infractions, nearly anyone can become a member, according to the CarShare website.   Aside from a nominal hourly and per-mile fee, members don’t incur any of the other costs of owning a vehicle, the website stated. A gas card is in every car to fill the tank, and maintenance is taken care of, as well.    Bourdon said that on average, members spend about $60 a month for the service.   UVM and CATMA have been partners of CarShare Vermont since its inception in 2008, providing substantial financial backing in the form of donated cars and parking spots.   UVM affiliates currently comprise about 25 percent of CarShare Vermont’s members.   CarShare Vermont is very complementary to the public transportation infrastructure and has reduced the overall number of cars on campus, said Sandy Thibault, transportation demand management program manager for CATMA.   “In 2003, 50.7 percent of UVM students brought cars to campus,” Thibault said.  “In 2010, that number dropped to 21.4 percent.”   Support from the Burlington community has been integral to CarShare Vermont’s success, Bourdon said.  All parking “pods” have been donated as permanent homes for the vehicles, and UVM and Champlain College each donated the two vehicles on their campuses.   Environmental, financial and community benefits are reasons to use the service, she said.  Bourdon admitted that it is almost impossible to be car-free and sees car sharing as a viable alternative to owning a car.   “You really avoid the hassles of owning a personal car in Burlington,” she said.  “Car sharing also leads to less congested roads and members don’t have to deal with finding parking or clearing snow from cars during the winter.”   Bourdon said she hopes this latest promotion will inspire more people to use the service, and commended UVM on their diligence in supporting the service.   “I have to give kudos to UVM; they’re doing a good job putting their money where their mouth is,” she said.   Any interested UVM affiliates are encouraged to visit to learn more about the offer.