No car? No problem. At least that’s the message Santa Clara hopes to send when it officially launches its own Zipcar chapter this January. The car-sharing program, found in urban areas and other universities like Duke and USC, will allow faculty, staff and students to rent vehicles for dollars on the hour.
The idea came more than two years ago, when the Center for Student Leadership began looking at new cars for the Santa Clara Community Action Program to use for service projects and volunteering. Working through then-Associated Students Senator Katherine Quinn-Shea and CSL Director Jon Gray, the university got to the contract phase with another rental service before talks stalled and the issue was dropped.
Car-sharing was given new life last year when Senator Courtney Seymour began working with Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students Jeanne Rosenberger and Matt Cameron, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Life, on a series of reports and presentations to convince the administration to move forward with Zipcar. Director of Campus Safety Charlie Arolla began talks with the service around the same time and has since been designated Zipcar’s university representative.
The combined efforts led to Santa Clara signing a contract with Zipcar this past November.
Students, faculty and staff can choose from two cars – a Toyota Prius and Scion xB – to rent for as low as $8 an hour or $66 for the day during weekdays. Weekend rates are $9 an hour and $72 for the day. The program requires an annual fee of $35, but rates include gas, insurance, 180 free miles and roadside assistance. Zipcar vehicles at Santa Clara are parked in designated spots just north of the parking structure.
The cars can be reserved for use online. Once signed up for the program, participants will receive a microchip card in the mail that is used to unlock the vehicle at your reservation time. Once inside, renters can find the keys and a gas card in the glove compartment.
Santa Clara has spent the past several years exploring transportation alternatives. Cameron cites efforts to encourage carpooling and the study of a bike-sharing program as some of the more recent developments. But the addition of Zipcar furthers the university’s commitment to sustainability by specifically reducing the need for individual cars and the associated congestion and emissions. Both cars in Santa Clara’s fleet get over 20 miles per gallon, with the hybrid Prius reaching 51 MPG while driving in the city.
The program is also being touted as a money saver for the university. When traveling on official school business, faculty and staff are reimbursed a dollar amount for every mile driven. Cameron believes the introduction of Zipcar, where rates are based on time and not distance, will lower the cost of traveling and eliminate the need for paperwork and tracking. Several departments are already setting up accounts to take advantage of the service.
Both Cameron and Quinn-Shea, now Vice President of AS, see the program being promoted to incoming freshmen at future orientation sessions. As more students hear about the service and sign up for membership, administrators believe the cars will become a popular campus feature.
The university will closely monitor how often the cars are used in the next year. Officials are open to add more cars to the fleet if demand is high enough.
Santa Clara will hold its official Zipcar launch event Thursday, Jan. 14 on the Alameda and Santa Clara Malls from 10:30am to 3:30pm, although the cars are available for reservation beginning Jan. 11. Representatives from Zipcar, AS, and the Office of Sustainability will be available to answer questions and offer vehicle demonstrations.
For more information, visit Santa Clara’s Zipcar web page here or visit www.zipcar.com/scu.
By Chris Woodhouse, '10, Sustainability Intern.