CAMPUS GREEN: Zipcar Drives Car-Sharing Across PA
Most parents, after 18 years of keeping a watchful eye on their child, are primarily concerned about safety
when they let go of their child for the first time at a college campus.
Zipcar Philadelphia General Manager Peter Burvik, father of a college kid himself, is no exception.
"I send my son away and I yearn to have a good peace of mind that he will be safe," he says. "What if there is an emergency where he needs to come home? Or what if he needs to go off campus for a meeting or interview? I don't want to be wiring money to him, and since he is only 19 he isn't old enough to rent a car." So having Zipcar on college campuses allow students to be 100 percent dependent upon using on campus Zipcars whenever they need."
That's where Zipcar comes in, providing the freedom of having a car at ones fingertips 24/7, and the company's Pennsylvania presence is growing. At the start of last semester in the Fall of 2011, Drexel University recognized students' need for accessible vehicles and signed up for a partnership with Zipcar Philadelphia. Drexel signed into a program called Zipcar U, a Zipcar program specifically designed for car sharing on colleges and universities across the country.
The University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College and LaSalle University are all currently enrolled in Zipcar U. Burvik says that Arcadia University is currently in the process of getting Zipcar on campus and Temple University students use Zipcar but are not apart of Zipcar U.
In addition to its Philadelphia office, Zipcar maintains an office in Pittsburgh, where there are nearly 50 vehicles throughout the city, including on campus at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Zipcar is scattered across the state elsewhere, like in Franklin County at Penn State-Mont Alto, in Cumberland County at Dickinson College and in Washington County at California University of Pennsylvania.
Burvik says, "The decision to put Zipcars on Drexel's campus was a win win situation for Zipcar and Drexel because students were presenting a need for a quick car fix."
The need to zip
Zipcar's tagline "Sometimes you just need a car" speaks to college students because they do sometimes need a car. Zipcar isn't intended for everyday use from the same person, but for people to use them when they need to go somewhere that public transportation can't.
"Students, faculty and professional staff that are living and working in an urban setting have various transportation needs," says Niki Ververelli, the Coordinator, Special Projects for Drexel Business Services. "Zipcar is a service that blends in with those varied schedules and is there when desired. Bringing a practical and convenient service to Drexel University, while also impacting the community in a positive and sustainable way, is an easy decision,"
Since Drexel University is known for its co-operative education system, many students have to access the Greater Philadelphia area frequently for working and learning purposes and they can't always depend on public transportation.
"Car sharing at Drexel University gives students the accessibility to a vehicle when they do not have their own on campus. Many of our students take advantage of the Drexel University shuttle transportation system as well as SEPTA public transportation, but may be in need of a car at times," says Ververelli.
Students don't have to be 25 years old to sign up, and they can do so right from their cell phones. For students who are not car owners or who are not allowed to have cars on campus (usually freshman and sophomores), Zipcar is by far the cheapest way to get where you are going in a car. Drexel students pay an annual fee of $35 for a Zipcar U card, and the vehicles start as low as $7 per hour and $69 per day. Gas, insurance, reserved parking spots, up to 180 miles of driving per day and roadside assistance are all included with no additional charges. Cars can be reserved for as short as an hour or as long as four days.
Taking a green drive
Zipcar options feature new models like the Ford Focus, Honda Insight, Mazda 3, Scion xB and Kia Souls – all available at Drexel. All of the Zipcars are energy and fuel efficient cars that promote efficient and sustainable transportation which coincides with many PA schools' commitment to sustainable initiatives, including Drexel.
Drexel is included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Top 50 list of the largest green power purchasers, and through Zipcar U they continue to hold tight to their prestigious EPA ranking. The "green" benefits of using Zipcar are straightforward because they promote car sharing in which fuel emissions are minimal compared to someone driving more frequently.
While the exact number of students who are using Zipcar U has yet to be determined, Burvick says with certainty that "hundreds" of Drexel students have signed up for the program and are happily enjoying car sharing.
"When I do need a car, for example to drive to job interviews, having Zipcar on campus makes getting around even easier," says Drexel undergrad Elise Miedwig. "The cars are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I just go on to the Zipcar app on my iPhone and reserve one of the cars for when I need it.
'It's so convenient. And knowing that I'm cutting down on emissions by sharing a car is just a bonus. Zipcar has definitely taken some of the stress out of being a student in the city."
KELLY CLAYTON is a senior at Elizabethtown College who plays field hockey, writes on a variety of subjects for publications and is the Editor of Tru(4)ia Magazine. Send feedback here.
All photographs of Zipcar ports and Drexel University by MICHAEL PERSICO