Zipcar, the world’s number one car-sharing company in the world, will bring its service to Colgate’s campus. As a result of the Student Government Association (SGA) initiative led by junior Alex Restrepo, two cars will be available for use by students and faculty either by the end of the semester or at the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester.
“I got involved in SGA because I wanted to get things done to improve student life on campus and it is great to see this get pushed through with so much support,” Restrepo said.
The SGA has advertised the fact that the arrival of Zipcar at Colgate has many clear and monumental benefits. President of SGA and senior Liz Brodsky indicated that Zipcar will make excursions off-campus more feasible, allowing students without cars the opportunity to explore Hamilton and beyond.
SGA plans to create brochures to be kept in the cars with destination options such as nearby restaurants and outdoor parks.
Each reservation comes with 180 miles, with a low cost for additional miles. As a result, it may be cheaper to take trips with a Zipcar than with a student or Faculty’s own car.
“We are currently working on the details as to which cars we are going to get, but we will start off with at least two cars, preferably a smaller car for quick trips, and a midsized SUV for longer trips, such as a ski weekend, that may require more luggage space,” Restrepo said.
Zipcar is much more flexible than typical United States rental companies which restrict users to 25 and older, and to those with U.S. licenses only. Zipcar’s insurance policies are more relaxed, extending use to individuals 18 years of age, as well as international residents.
“This program is especially exciting because unlike the Colgate vans or American rental car agencies, international students can drive the cars,” Brodsky said. “Over breaks, especially winter break between semesters, international students will not have to feel so stranded.”
Zipcar is also a convenient solution to the widespread struggle to find transportation to and from train stations and airports. According to Brodsky, Zipcar will make off-campus travel or arrangements for Colgate visits by family or friends much less stressful. Instead of desperately scrambling to find a ride from someone who has a car on campus, students can have a dependable option.
The program also resonates with Colgate’s green projects because the cars will be fuel-efficient vehicles. Since Zipcar requires drivers to plan ahead, the program will also encourage carpooling.
Zipcar’s program is simple to follow. A user can log on through the Zipcar website and view the availability of the two Colgate Zipcars. Although the prices are not yet established for Colgate, comparable prices for Zipcar may be found in the general rates listed on the website, which start from eight dollars/hour or sixty-six dollars for the day. These prices include gas, which Zipcar pays for with a gas card available in each of the cars.
As Zipcar has expanded its programs, with currently 8,000 Zipcars and 500,000 members, the company has changed their policies tremendously. A proposal to bring Zipcar to campus previously failed, but this year it has been met with widespread support.
“When Colgate looked into Zipcar a few years ago, it would have been around $15,000 because the insurance policy was much more complicated,” Brodsky said.
Now, if a driver gets into an accident in the Zipcar, there will be no increase in one’s personal auto insurance, because Zipcar has its own insurance program. Zipcar will even pay to have a taxi pick up the driver from the scene of the breakdown or accident.
Expenditures on the initiative are minimal for Colgate University. Colgate must only arrange for the two parking spots, potentially off of Lally Lane, as well as designate Buildings and Grounds staff to take the cars for monthly Zipcar inspections at a station about 10 miles away.
As a Zipcar location, Colgate must also promise to give a detailed marketing plan dealing with advertisement of Zipcars around campus to keep the cars in demand.
A potential issue that had concerned Zipcar was the drop in use of the cars during winter and summer breaks. However, SGA believes that by extending use to faculty, there will be a steady demand for cars throughout the year.
At all universities, Zipcar initially tests the waters with a roll out of two cars and then increases the number of vehicles as the company sees fit. For example, Syracuse University began with two cars and currently has five.
Restrepo indicated that development of the program with Zipcar staff and the school’s administration has been a smooth process.
“We’ve been working on this project since October, and it is great to see how well it has come into fruition,” Restrepo said. “At first we weren’t sure how the different administrators would feel about the program, but they were all very receptive and helpful along the process of bringing Zipcars to campus.”
Zipcar’s benefits are self-evident, promoting mobility to and from campus for a greater number of Colgate community members.