Borrow Wheels through Enterprise CarShare

Campus car-sharing program lets Duke community members rent cars by hour or day

The Blum-Mecagni family is one of more than 1,400 Enterprise CarShare members at Duke who rent a car for errands and long-distance trips. Photo by April Dudash

When Volker Blum and Chiara Mecagni settled into their new home two miles from Duke campus, they realized they could live a car-free lifestyle.They moved from Berlin, Germany, a year ago with three children to start new jobs at Duke, and after Home Depot trips and box hauling died down, they used bikes and a car sharing program on campus to get around town.Enterprise CarShare is a membership program that allows Duke faculty, staff and students to rent cars by the hour or day to run errands, travel to meetings, take a road trip and more. This fall, 18 cars comprise Duke’s fleet, from the gas- and battery-powered Chevy Volt to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Rental cost is $9 to $11 per hour and $66 to $72 per day, depending on the type of vehicle. “They’re receptive,” Mecagni said of Enterprise CarShare. “A person answers the phone. If there’s a problem, they try and solve the issue. It’s really an amazing service that the University has set up.”More than 1,400 members of the Duke community are registered as Enterprise CarShare users, compared to the 200 members who were signed up when the Enterprise program first started at Duke in August of 2011.“It adds this level of comfort for using alternative transportation and knowing that even though Durham is a large city, you can still get around without having a car,” said Alison Carpenter, manager of Duke’s transportation demand management program. “People definitely use it.”CarShare members submit a one-time application and pay a $35 annual membership fee. After that, staff, faculty and students can make a rental reservation online through the Enterprise CarShare website.Ever since Blum started his associate professorship in the Duke Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Mecagni started as a physical therapist at Duke University Hospital, neither have had to pay for parking or worry about finding a parking spot close to work. For Blum, the closest CarShare parking spaces are located outside of his office in Hudson Hall.Mecagni said living without a car has made them pre-plan when organizing after-school activities or when they need to pick someone up from the airport. The CarShare vehicles come in handy when they visit friends who live on the other side of Durham or need to travel to their 7-year-old’s baseball games.Added bonuses include no expenses for car maintenance or gas. When fuel reaches a quarter of a tank, Enterprise CarShare asks members to fill up using a provided pre-paid fuel card. The family also pays for minimal car insurance, although Enterprise CarShare’s hourly rental rates include damage and liability protection.“We realized our regular life could be done without a car, that the kids could cycle to preschool and to the elementary school, that we could cycle to work,” Mecagni said. “For the bigger projects or the bigger things that we actually did need a car for, for long distances, there is the CarShare program.”