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Zipcars aim to reduce students’ need for cars

Many students would agree that the parking situation at Drake University is less than ideal. It may be difficult to find a parking spot because of the large number of students on campus and the limited number of spots. Zipcar may be the solution to all parking problems.

Zipcar is a car-sharing service that is quickly becoming popular with universities. It started in Cambridge, Mass., nearly a decade ago and now has programs at over 150 college campuses.

“Zipcars were first installed on campus to help reduce the need to own a car on campus,” said Morgan Johnston, University of Illinois transportation demand management coordinator in The Daily Illini.

The University of Illinois, the University of Southern California, Arizona State and the University of Notre Dame are a few of the schools that have brought Zipcar to their campuses.

“I first heard about Zipcar through Student Senate proposals,” said Mackensie Smith, campus advancement committee senator-at-large.

Drake’s campus advancement committee started looking into Zipcars after a proposal from last year’s Senate for a student-run Drake Direct was turned down.

If Zipcars were brought to Drake, students would have access to cars without the cost of personally owning one and without the cost of parking permits. Another advantage of Zipcars would be the reserved parking spots in campus lots.

“Drive a hybrid, or even a BMW; around here, they’re all green,” the Zipcar website reads. Drake would pick its cars from a variety of fuel-efficient vehicles.

“Optimally, we would bring the cars to campus for second semester of this year, but it may not happen until next year,” Smith said.

Unlike other rental car services, Zipcar insures students as young as 18 who have a driver’s license. The service provides insurance, 180 miles of driving, roadside assistance, gas, cleaning and maintenance for members.

With a $35 annual fee, members can reserve a car “from minutes to months in advance,” as advertised on the Zipcar website. Members receive a Zipcard in the mail after signing up. This card is used to unlock the doors and pay for gas. A Zipcard looks like a credit card and has a microchip in it that knows when a member has a reservation.

For students, cars are $8 per hour or up to $66 per day on weekdays and  $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends.

Many students are excited about the possibility that Drake may soon be getting Zipcars.

“Our campus basically has a two-block radius, so not having a car sometimes drives me stir crazy,” sophomore Emiline Lustig said. “It’s hard to get anywhere, whether you want to go shopping or to a concert or wherever.”

Zipcar isn’t just for students. Local residents age 21 and over can use the cars as long as they are Zipcar members. However, they don’t get the discounted membership rate, so it would be $75 for non-students to join.

Each Zipcar takes 15 to 20 privately owned vehicles off the road. That’s what people call environmentally friendly.

Photo: Courtesy of Zipcar

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