November 18, 2009 — Zipcars rolled on to University of Virginia Grounds this week.
Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story by Matt Kelly:
Zipcar is the world's largest car sharing service, allowing members to rent a car by the hour or the day.
The University contracted with the national company with the intent of decreasing the number of vehicles on Grounds and helping to reduce parking demand and associated congestion. A key component to the University's sustainability commitment, Zipcar offers faculty, staff and students a convenient, economical and environmentally responsible alternative to owning a car.
The cars were on display outside Newcomb Hall on Tuesday and by Observatory Hill Dining Hall on Wednesday. University transportation officials and representatives of the Zipcar company explained the program to students, faculty and staff and signed up members.
"I'm very excited about it," said Alexa Bush, 24, a first-year graduate student in architecture. "I live close to Grounds and bike a lot, but this would be great for weekend trips or to pick up things."
Bush, a San Francisco native, said she does not own a car, and is familiar with Zipcar.
"We have Zipcar in San Francisco and the Bay Area and it is a great resource," she said. "It's a sustainable way to make quick trips."
Six self-service Zipcars – three hybrid Honda Insights and three fuel-efficient Honda Civics – are available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cars will be in reserved parking spaces near the Chapel on McCormick Road, near the intersection of Alderman and McCormick roads, and near the intersection of Alderman and Stadium roads. The cars are available to faculty, staff and students aged 18 and older. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles and roadside assistance are included in the hourly and daily rates. More cars will be added as the service grows.
Zipcar will reduce parking demand and traffic congestion, said Rebecca White, U.Va.'s director of parking and transportation.
"Investing in alternative transportation and reducing the number of cars on Grounds are key tenets of our overall approach to sustainability," White said.
Individuals can join Zipcar for a $35 annual fee and drive for $8 per hour or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends. Students receive $35 in free driving credit as part of the program.
Faculty and staff enrolled in U.Va.'s Cavpool program will receive $15 in free driving credit as an added reward for choosing to carpool. The University is also encouraging its departments to use Zipcars for business travel.
Charlottesville residents, age 21 and older, will be able to join for $75. All members 21 and over will have access to Zipcar's network of more than 6,500 vehicles throughout North America and the United Kingdom.
Stephen Jamme, 54, a community member and 1989 alumnus of the Curry School of Education, was glad for an opportunity to sign up for Zipcar. A bicycle commuter to his job at St. Anne's- Belfield School, Jamme has not owned an automobile for two years after an accident led him to rethink car ownership.
"I put the money I was spending on a car into a savings account and rented a car when I needed one," he said. "I looked at Zipcar and decided it was a better deal."
Jamme said he rents a car about four times a year for long trips and thinks he may use Zipcar about six to eight times a year.
More than 50 percent of Zipcar members report either selling a car or opting not to buy one, said Matthew Malloy, vice president of Global University Operations for Zipcar. "Zipcar is a perfect solution for universities, given that most people who live and work on Grounds don't need a car full-time," he said.
"One of the great advantages of having this program on Grounds is that first-year students cannot bring cars to the Grounds," Malloy said. "This allows them to have a car without having a car. It enables them to live a very different lifestyle. "
The Zipcar concept is attractive to Tolulope A. Shekoni, 19, a first-year engineering student from Jackson, Miss., who has a car at home, but signed up for Zipcar.
"I'm not sure I will use it often, but I know there will be times when I will use it," he said.
U.Va. is among more than 140 colleges and universities that have partnered with Zipcar, including the University of Michigan, Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, Duke University, Dartmouth College, Yale University, Brown University and Old Dominion University.
U.Va. is a state leader in sustainability efforts, with an aggressive recycling program, extensive initiatives to reduce electrical and water use on Grounds, use of biofuels, a pilot composting project, active green building standards and programs to promote use of public transportation and consumption of local foods.
Information, including how to learn more and join Zipcar, is at www.zipcar.com/uva.