It’s a common scenario for drivers stuck in the daily commute: Cars inch forward moving slower than a toddler just learning to walk, and they inevitably reach an intersection just as the traffic signal turns to red. It makes you start to consider other ways to get around.
With a combination of West Virginia University and Morgantown public transportation systems and a new car-sharing program on campus, you can keep your time behind the wheel of a car to a minimum.
WVU is now offering a service that can simultaneously reduce traffic and parking congestion, reduce carbon emissions and save students money. It is Zipcar, an international car-sharing program that enables students, WVU employees and members of the general public to have the use of a car when they need it without relying on a personal vehicle.
WVU will begin by making five Zipcars available, two on Maiden Lane on the downtown campus, two beside the Evansdale Residential Complex and one in the Sunnyside area across from Honors Hall.
The yearly membership fee is $35, which for new members can be used toward rental fees for the first month of membership. Members of the previous WeCar service can have their memberships rolled over into Zipcar free of charge.
Rates start from $8 an hour or $66 daily during the week and are $9 an hour and $72 daily on weekends. The costs of insurance, gas and roadside assistance are included. The annual membership fee is waived for resident advisers, orientation leaders and WVU departments for business driving.
Zipcar representatives were at the Mountainlair student union Wednesday (Sept. 8) to promote the program. However the Honda Civic, two Toyota Priuses and two Scion xBs already have been used in the few weeks they’ve been on campus, said Eric Rosie, assistant director for parking administration at WVU’s Office of Transportation and Parking.
And the program has already seen new members in addition to the 50 members the WeCar program had enrolled.
The benefits of car sharing aren’t just for the individual. Zipcar estimates that each of its cars takes 15 to 20 privately owned cars off the road.
Hugh Kierig, director of Transportation and Parking at WVU, said the car-sharing program helps make reliance on alternative transportation possible.
“We tell students, ‘Don’t bring a car to campus’ because of parking issues and traffic congestion, and the Zipcar just provides another option for students who don’t bring a car,” he said. “They not only have free access to Mountain Line and PRT, but they now have access to a car whenever they need it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
A key feature of the Zipcar service is that drivers between 18 and 21 years of age are able to use the cars at WVU without any additional paperwork. Users 21 and older can access Zipcars anywhere they are available around the world.
Kierig said the Zipcar program offers a large degree of flexibility for users.
“If they’re going to London they can rent a Zipcar there, and if they’re going to Canada they can do the same,” he said.
Rosie said with 8,000 parking spaces spread between approximately 32,000 people at WVU, the University has to offer ways to minimize traffic congestion. He said the service is convenient for students to use when the PRT and Mountain Line bus service are not available, do not go to the necessary destinations or would be impractical.
“If you’re going to Walmart to buy a TV, you can’t haul it back on the Mountain Line,” he said.
And Rosie is hoping that staff will find the cars useful, thereby using University vehicles less.
“One of the things we’ve even hoped it will do is reduce the amount of fleet vehicles that departments have,” Rosie said.
Rosie said that as staff track how often cars are used and demand increases, they will evaluate whether to move the cars or add more.
Zipcar is being offered at more than 200 universities in North America, including the University of California system, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, University of Michigan, University of Florida, University of Virginia, Yale University, University of Illinois, Brandeis University and within the State University of New York system.
It operates in cities around the country, including Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., and has cars in London, Toronto and Vancouver.
To join Zipcar or find out more information, go to www.zipcar.com/wvu.
Zipcar also has an application for the iPhone.
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