Officials at Zipcar — a car-sharing company — hope their alternative mode of transportation will catch on in Spartan country following an event Wednesday.
Faculty, staff and students who are at least 18 years old with a clean driving record can use any one of the program’s six cars, according to the company’s website. An annual fee of $35 provides a Zipcard to customers who then pay hourly weekday rates of $8 and weekend rates of $9 to drive the cars.
Daily rates for the weekday and weekend are $66 and $72, respectively.
“Zipcar is a great alternative to biking and walking,” said Rich Paisner, a senior account manager at Zipcar who spoke at the event. “When you need to get off campus or to places that aren’t all-access by bike or walking, there’s Zipcar.”
Physiology sophomore Charles Vear said Zipcar might have many benefits.
“I think it’s a great idea, especially for all the freshmen up here who have no way to (access a car),” he said. “It does sound like a convenient thing and a good way to get around.”
The program has shown success at other schools — the company has operations at more than 225 campuses worldwide, said Matthew Malloy, Zipcar’s vice president of international university operations.
“There’s a universalism where so many people are looking around about car sharing,” he said.
Such feelings extend to MSU’s campus, where some students are excited about the program and its potential impact.
“We have so many people on campus here, students, who in order for them to really start experiencing adulthood, need a car,” said Sri Kumar, a civil engineering senior.
The six cars are placed in three two-car pods, each featuring a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape. The pods are located between Wilson and Holden halls and near the International Center and Abrams Planetarium, said Jennifer Battle, assistant director of campus sustainability at MSU.
As well as providing additional means of transportation, the cars are extremely cost-effective for drivers, with parking, maintenance and gas covered by the company, Paisner said.
He added the program also provides a positive environmental impact as the company’s research has shown each car can take at least 15 personal vehicles off the road. Across Michigan, the company provides 40 vehicles — 34 of them at the University of Michigan, Paisner said.
East Lansing officials also have taken notice of the company and have been involved in Zipcar’s talks with MSU.
It’s unclear whether the city will establish the program after its launch at MSU, but officials are optimistic of its potential with the campus community, said Tim Schmitt, community development analyst for East Lansing.
“We hope to have Zipcar expand into East Lansing,” he said. “Whenever they get to the point of expansion and they feel its an appropriate time for them to come into downtown, we think it’s a natural fit.”