Union is partnering with Zipcar – the popular car sharing network – to offer a Ford Focus and a Ford Escape for use by students, faculty and staff.
Starting in the spring term, the Zipcars will have designated parking spaces in the West parking lot and be available to registered users 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Members of the campus community can join for $15 this year; the annual membership increases to $25 after the first year. Rates start as low as $7.50 an hour or $69 for a full day. Gas, insurance and up to 180 miles of driving per day are included.
Members with smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, can download the Zipcar mobile application to make reservations, lock and unlock the vehicles and honk the horn to help locate the vehicle. Reservations can also be made by phone or on Zipcar’s website.
“The Zipcar program on campus gives users the freedom of using a car without the hassle of owning one,” said Katelyn Bushey, Zipcar director of university sales. “We’re happy to partner with Union College to give the community a transportation option to fit their needs.”
Zipcar operates on more than 500 colleges and universities throughout North America. The idea to bring car sharing to campus started with Student Forum.
“Having Zipcar here will benefit students in many ways,” said Forum President Ilan Levine. “First-years, international students and others without cars on campus will now have access to two vehicles. Additionally, Zipcar has offered competitive prices for student members. We hope that this will make transportation more widely accessible to students while also improving the congestion in student parking lots.”
There are also potential environmental impacts of bringing the service to campus.
“Fewer personal cars on campus and more car sharing yield significant greenhouse gas emission reductions,” said Meghan Haley-Quigley ‘11, Union’s sustainability coordinator.
She said while it remains to be seen if the service persuades people to leave personal vehicles at home, Zipcar fills a need for students without access to a vehicle.
With the new Zipcar program, student organizations at Union can also participate in the “Students with Drive” grant program. Sponsored by Zipcar and Ford Motor Company, the program provides students with Zipcar memberships and driving credit to support student organizations on campus.
The program will provide $200,000 in grants to be awarded to student organizations at eligible Zipcar colleges and universities. The program runs through next month and will culminate with a grand prize worth $25,000 in scholarships, cash and Zipcar driving.