Willamette motor pool process updated

by University Communications,

The university is making changes to the motor pool to improve service to its campus customers.

Beginning immediately, the in-house motor pool will be phased out and most individual and group renters will switch to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. On campus vehicles through ZipCar are also still available and a good choice for short duration trips.

The change was recommended by a working group of representatives of motor pool users and University Services staff, who met throughout the spring and summer to address challenges with the continued operation of an in-house motor pool. The working group was charged with the task of identifying solutions to these challenges while considering the conveniences that on-site vans offer.

The group discussed issues such as:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows that 15-passenger vans (six of the eight Willamette vans) have a higher risk of rollover due to inexperienced drivers, overloading and improperly inflated tires;
  • Set too low to cover the true cost of operating an in-house motor pool, Willamette’s rental rate was insufficient to create a pool of funds to cover the cost of replacement when vans become too old to keep on the road;
  • Four of the vans had clocked over 200,000 miles and needed to be replaced immediately;
  • As the university doesn’t offer roadside assistance, several renters whose vans broke down were stranded far from Salem;
  • During heavy rental weekends, staff were unable to clean the vans before they were rented to the next user;
  • Minor accidents, which occurred because of the size of the vans and the inexperience of the drivers, increased Willamette’s insurance costs.

After exploring several options and weighing convenience, cost, risk management and service, the working group recommended expanding usage of Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

“The working group feels that this program best addresses the issues we face and provides the most convenience for renters,” says Dan Valles, associate vice president for financial services. “Benefits include a professional car rental organization providing clean, well-maintained and road-worthy vehicles with 24-hour roadside assistance. Plus, renters also have access to more vehicle options and prices to meet budget and occupancy needs.”

The Enterprise program is part of a State of Oregon negotiated contract, and Willamette’s rental rates will be consistent with that contract. The working group and unit fiscal officers will monitor the budget impact of this transition.

The working group is developing procedures for this transition, including transportation to and from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car location on Mission Street (just east of campus), such as pick-up and drop-off provided by Enterprise, a scheduled shuttle on heavy rental days and SafeRide through Campus Safety.

Staff and students don’t need to become experts in the procedures for renting a vehicle through Enterprise or ZipCar. Service Center staff will be trained and available to help renters. More details about new procedures will follow soon, but if you have an immediate booking need, contact Dan Valles at dvalles@willamette.edu or 370-6451.

The working group will continue indefinitely as the Motor Pool Working Group to monitor the transition and continually evaluate the program. Willamette community members will be able to bring any comments, suggestions or issues to this group. Members include:

  • Elizabeth Gill, ASWU
  • Bryan Schmidt, Campus Recreation/Student Activities
  • Eric Lassahn, Community Service Learning/Student Activities
  • Judy Gordon, Athletics
  • Jennifer Chambers, CLA & Academic Affairs
  • Rich Dennis, Campus Safety
  • Matt Dakopolos, Scheduling, Conferences & Events
  • Kindra Jordan, Purchasing & Enterprise Contract contact
  • Dan Valles, University Services