As the world’s largest car sharing service, Zipcar provides automobile rental to its members, billable by the hour or day, and has been on Tech’s campus since 2007.
There are 12 Zipcars parked at five different locations around campus, with Kias, Nissans, Mazdas, Toyotas and Volkswagens included in the fleet. Zipcars are parked at the Graduate Learning Center, at the Ferst Drive-State Street intersection, near the corner of North Ave. and Techwood Drive, in the Parking and Transportation office lot at Tech Square and in front of Brown Residence Hall and Center Street Apartments.
The goal of the program is to actively change the way students approach car ownership on campus.
“Zipcar and this whole notion of car sharing would help supplement and enhance the whole alternative transportation program that we have been working to set-up,” said David Williamson, Associate Director at the Tech Parking and Transportation Services.
Zipcar promotes the idea of commuting in a different way, according to Williamson. The number of Zipcar vehicles on campus has increased by more than 50 percent since last year. There are more than 1,700 Zipcar members at Tech, including students, faculty and staff.
Members between the ages of 18-20 can only use the Zipcars on campus. However, members who are 21 or older have access to cars belonging to the Zipcar network around the world.
Moreover, members have 24/7 access to Zipcars. There is an online reservation process for Zipcars, where one can see the available cars at different locations for the desired time slot. Members have automated access to Zipcars by using an access card called a Zipcard. They just have to tap it on a sensor on the corner of the windshield and the keys are already located inside the car upon entering.
“I’ve used Zipcar a lot—be it trips to restaurants or even to a different state; Zipcar has definitely been a very handy resource when it comes to getting things done quickly,” said Daniel Bernard Hickman, third-year AE major and Zipcar member.
Every Zipcar reservation includes gas, insurance and 180 free miles per day. Members are held financially responsible for the first $750 of any and all damage to the vehicle.
“I really dislike Zipcar for its extremely stringent rules. An inconspicuous scratch on the bumper could cost you $750 even though it could be painted to look as good as new; but no, Zipcar has to replace the part,” said Hickman.
Furthermore, Zipcar refuses to take a member’s word or give a first-time warning, according to Hickman.
There is a reduced $15 one-time application fee for Tech students, faculty and staff when they join Zipcar. Hourly rates start from about $8 per hour and daily rates from $68.
“This whole generation is moving away from this idea that they necessarily would want to even own a car,” said Aaron Fowler, Alternative Transportation Coordinator for Parking and Transportation Services.
The Parking and Transportation Services Department has not received any complaints regarding the operations of Zipcar since it was adopted at the campus four years ago.
There are no financial or money transfers between Zipcar and Tech. Zipcar provides the cars, maintenance and marketing and Tech provides them with the parking spaces, according to Williamson.