GRATITUDE: USF St. Pete’s Enterprise CarShare
Today I am expressing gratitude for the Enterprise CarShare program at USF St. Pete. What a valuable service for the students and what a blessing that they share the program with the public.
This program is similar to a car rental program, but you can rent the car by the day, overnight or just for a couple hours. You only have to rent it for exactly as long as you need it, and you pay accordingly.
After I signed up for the program online, they sent me a membership card in the mail, along with some instructions on how to use the program.
Here’s the fun part. When you want to use the car, you simply make a reservation on their website or mobile app. Then, if you’re a bad-ass like me, you ride your folding Brompton to the car, which is located in the USF parking garage on 5th Avenue South. They have two cars: a Scion Cube and a Fiat 500. Although I adore the Fiat 500, I have not yet rented it because I’ve needed the extra room of the Cube.
The car is, of course, locked when I arrive, and there are no humans waiting to assist me. Instead, there is a box inside the windshield over which you hold your membership card to unlock the door. I arrived early the first time, and the door wouldn’t unlock. I called the phone number on the back of the card, and the nice lady informed me that I couldn’t unlock the car outside of 5 minutes before my rental start time. Once that time arrived, I was able to hold the card over the box, the light changed to green, and I heard the doors unlock.
Once inside, I retrieved the key from the glove box, folded up my bike, stowed it in the car and took off. How cool is that?
My most recent mission was to pick up a chair I’d seen on Craigslist, and the Cube was roomy enough to accommodate. With the back seats folded down, the chair fit perfectly.
While I had the car, I decided to do a grocery run as well. I’d booked it for 3 hours and had plenty of time to pick up a few items and then drop everything at my apartment before returning the car.
The other incredibly cool thing about this program is that you don’t have to pay for any gas. That’s right. There’s a gas card in the glove box that you can use at most gas stations, but it doesn’t cost you anything. You just log the receipt in their mobile app. The rule is that you have to leave the car with at least a quarter tank. Since the gas is free, I like the idea of just filling the tank so the next few people don’t have to worry about it.
Returning the car was as painless as picking it up. I simply parked it back in its spot in the parking garage, removed my bike, replaced the key in its special spot in the glove box, and locked the car again using my membership card. Then, like a bad-ass, I unfolded my bike and rode home.