Squamish senior society takes carsharing for a test drive

Modo spokesperson visits seniors’ residence to explain program

With the touch of a keyless fob, Elinor Warkentin unlocked one of Squamish’s two Modo vehicles to show seniors the ease of carsharing.

Laura Modray, the executive director of the Squamish Senior Citizens Home Society, invited the Modo ambassador to present the service to interested seniors after she heard of the company’s introduction in town. Carsharing is an option the society’s board has considered for several years to relieve strain on their limited parking, Modray said, but there previously weren’t any providers based locally.

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On Jan. 11, 15 seniors gathered at The Manor lounge to learn about Modo’s program. Although the co-op launched in B.C. in 1997, its first vehicles came to Squamish last August.

"Ideally, if we can sell this program to the seniors, I want to actually provide parking for one or two Modo cars at the new building," Modray said.

The seniors society is planning a new seniors’ residence, which will have 232 units including spaces for couples. There will be more parking spots per person at the new building than at The Cedars and The Manor, but the monthly rate will be more expensive at $40, Modray said.

"Modo was actually surprised that I approached them because they didn't really see the seniors as a potential demographic market,” she said. “But what I noticed — because I'm here all the time — is I see cars sitting, not being used. There are some people who use their car maybe once a week, maybe once a month, but they can't get rid of the car because they might have to go to Lions Gate Hospital for a specialist appointment. A lot of them are paying insurance monthly, gas, maintenance and all that for this thing that sits there unused most of the time.”

In Squamish, Modo owns a RAV 4 hybrid at the Chieftain Centre and a Prius V outside Squamish municipal hall. Costs include a membership, an hourly rate and the cost per kilometre travelled, but users save on the price of insurance and owning a car full-time. A credit card located in each vehicle is used to fill up gas at no expense to the user.

During the presentation, one woman asked Warkentin if you could book a Modo car over the phone. While smartphones, tablets and computers can be used to reserve online, there are also agents to speak to over the telephone. Modray said after the presentation that many seniors may see internet-related technology as an obstacle, even if they have a smartphone, and this option to verbally reserve a vehicle makes Modo more accessible.

“I hope that a few people take advantage of it and then once the others see how it works by watching someone else using it, I think it's just a matter of time. I'd love to see a partnership with them for the new building,” Modray said, adding that she is considering designated Modo parking spots at the seniors’ residence.

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