Blakely Heaton | Staff Reporter
Butler University’s campus will soon be equipped with BlueIndy’s rental cars at 635 W. Hampton Drive. Right now, the nearest Bluecar station can be found on 56th Street.
WTHR Channel 13 reported BlueIndy is “the first of its kind in North America,” so not only is it new to Indianapolis, but it is new to the country. BlueIndy’s grand opening was Sept. 2, where Butler Blue III made an appearance.
BlueIndy allows anyone 18 years or older with a U.S. driver’s license to rent one of its small, electric cars.
BlueIndy operates on a subscription basis, allowing members to subscribe for a day, week, month or year. Members pay based on how many minutes they use the car, and rates range based on what kind of subscription is purchased.
According to BlueIndy’s website, a day subscription is free and charges eight dollars for the first 20 minutes, and then 40 cents per additional minute. A week long subscription is $9.99 per week, $7 for the first 20 minutes, and then 35 cents per minute. A monthly subscription is $19.99 per month, $6 for the initial 20 minutes, and then 30 cents per minute. A year long subscription is $9.99 per month, $4 for the initial 20 minutes, and then 20 cents per minute.
Both a membership and a subscription are required to rent a Bluecar. This can be done online or at a BlueIndy enrollment kiosk; however, not all BlueIndy stations can set up memberships. Butler community members are in luck, because Butler University’s BlueIndy station will have an enrollment kiosk. Subscribing online is only available for monthly or yearly subscriptions, because all daily or weekly subscriptions must be done in-person at an enrollment kiosk.
Setting up a subscription and booking cars and parking spots can also be done using the BlueIndy App, which is free in the App Store.
The Bluecar is 100 percent electric, and has a range of about 150 miles per charge. Each car can accommodate four people comfortably and has plenty of room for luggage, according to BlueIndy’s website.
With a subscription comes a membership badge, which is used at the kiosk before and after driving the Bluecar. To rent a car, go to the booking kiosk, wave the BlueIndy badge in front of the sensor and it will verify you have a driver’s license, and aren’t under any influences and then proceed to tell you which Bluecar to take. Once the Bluecar is verified, BlueIndy starts charging.
Then, simply approach the charging station and wave the BlueIndy badge over the sensor until a green light flashes, go to the driver’s side and wave the badge, again, over the sensor in the window to unlock the car. The final step is unplugging the car from the charging station, then the Bluecar is ready to go.
To return the car, take it to the nearest BlueIndy station, park in a spot, get out of the car, wave the BlueIndy badge on the door sensor to lock the car, then wave the badge over the charging station and plug the car back in. After doing this, a text message is sent verifying the drive has ended and BlueIndy has stopped charging for the drive.
During the entire experience with BlueIndy, customer service is 24/7 if there are ever any questions or complications. There is also a call button installed in all Bluecars if assistance is required during a drive.
Michael Kaltenmark, Butler’s external relations director, collaborated with BlueIndy about getting Bluecars on campus. Kaltenmark said BlueIndy approached Butler about setting up stations here because “they understood the economic impact that Butler has in this midtown.”
Kaltenmark said he did not know the specifics on the financial aspect of the agreement, but he did mention conversations between Butler and BlueIndy about a possible annual student rate to make Bluecars more affordable.
“BlueIndy is open to the discussion and interested in making themselves more affordable and convenient,” Kaltenmark said.
Another preliminary discussion on convenience discussed incorporating Butler student IDs into the BlueIndy structure. “Rather than have a student sign up for BlueIndy and have another card, we can just turn on the RFID on the student’s Butler University ID card for the BlueIndy stations,” Kaltenmark said.
The first Blue Indy station will be placed on Hampton Drive, taking some of the parking spots in front of either Ross Hall or Residential College.
“It will eat up some spots on Hampton, but I feel like we are in a position to be able to do this now with the $2.5 million investment in I-Lot two years ago that added 500 spots, and the addition of 1,000 parking spots in the new parking garage,” Kaltenmark said. “We don’t necessarily have a shortage of spaces on campus.”
Butler student Jayne Heinrich said she is not in favor of the BlueIndy cars being at Butler.
“It’ll negatively affect student parking if they put more spots on campus,” she said. “Parking is already so scarce on campus.”
Taking more parking spots is definitely a major student concern.
“If they put them in the parking garage or something, I think they could enhance Butler,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich said she would consider using a Bluecar, but only after comparing prices.
“I assume Uber is cheaper,” she said. “So I’d probably choose that.”