Zipcar service receives lukewarm reception from students
The car-sharing service Zipcar became available to Syracuse University students Monday, giving SU a new mode of transportation and students the ability to rent vehicles on their own time.
Fourteen students had registered for the service in its first three days, said Al Sauer, director of parking and transit services at SU.
While two Zipcars – a Toyota Matrix and a Honda Civic – were supposed to be available this week, only one is currently ready for use. Sauer said he is waiting for Zipcar to send the plates and updated registration stickers on the second car, but that he does not know when the university will receive them.
Until then, students can only use the one vehicle, which is located in the Archbold parking lot behind the Physics Building.
Allan Breese, SU’s director of business and facilities maintenance services, said the university would consider adding onto its fleet of two Zipcars if the program is successful.
Students who want to rent a Zipcar register online with the company, which charges a $35 annual fee. They will then be mailed a Zipcard, and can go online or call Zipcar to see when a car is available. Within 10 minutes of reserving a car, the student can wave their Zipcard in front of the vehicle’s windshield to unlock the doors. The cost of renting a vehicle is $9 an hour, or $60 for a whole day, which includes insurance.
Sean Herlihy, a junior newspaper journalism major and contributing writer for The Daily Orange, said the cost of the service is still too high.
‘To be honest, it’d probably be a last resort type thing,’ Herlihy said. ‘Students are poor enough that 35 bucks just to sign something… I mean I’d be shocked if anyone would want to do that unless they really needed to.’
Mike Smith, a freshman advertising major, agreed that the program is a little pricey, but said it’s because of the timesaving opportunities it offers.
Other students like Justin Thomas, a senior economics major, said they see the Zipcars as a chance to have their own ride to get around town.
‘I’m really receptive of (the program),’ Thomas said. ‘This way, I don’t have to beg one of my friends if I need to go get something from somewhere.’
Unlike ordinary cars, Breese said, the Zipcar sends a message to administrators through Gmail, Google’s mail service, if it needs to be inspected.
‘I joke that it phones home to the mother ship,’ Breese said.
SU’s Student Association advocated for the start of the Zipcar program last spring, said SA President Marlene Goldenberg. She said the program is important from an environmental standpoint.
‘It encourages car sharing,’ Goldenberg said. ‘We purposely selected cars with better gas mileage.’
Alejandro Fernandez, Director of Off-Campus Student Services, said Zipcars are mostly for younger students.
‘This program is mainly aiming for the underclassmen,’ said Fernandez. ‘It’s another step ahead, instead of building another parking garage.’
Ari Weinberger, a freshman advertising major, also said he believed the program could be worthwhile, as long as too many students don’t try to converge on the two vehicles at once.
‘It could be a very good idea,’ Weinberger said. ‘The only problem I could see is availability…but I feel because it’s new, it will eventually grow and could be something very useful to most of the students on campus.’
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