Until now, UC Davis students without cars have had to get around by bike, bus or the occasional pity ride from their more fortunate friends. This may soon change.
Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) is currently working on a contract to bring Zipcar to UC Davis before fall quarter, said TAPS Director Clifford Contreras.
Zipcar is the world’s largest membership-based car-sharing and automobile renting service, according to the company’s website. The service allows members or “zipsters” to view vehicle availability and reserve a self-service car via the Internet or by telephone, in increments as short as one hour. In addition, the minimum user age is only 21 as opposed to other car rental companies that require users to be 25 years or older.
“Zipcar is basically ‘wheels when you want them’,” Contreras said. “The cars will be available for students, staff and faculty to use for around $8 an hour including insurance and gas.”
Zipcar provides a viable alternative to owning a car because of its accessibility and cost efficiency, Contreras said.
“The average Zipcar user can potentially save around $50 a month in comparison to a person driving their own car,” he said. “It’s a wallet saver and environmentally friendly … it may have many undergrads rethinking whether they need a car at school.”
In conjunction with Zipcar services, TAPS is also looking at bringing Zimride to the university. Zimride is an online social rideshare and carpool matching system which serves primarily college campuses, said COO and co-founder John Zimmer.
“The idea for Zimride first came about after Logan [Green] and I saw how inefficient the transportation infrastructure on college campuses was,” he said. “We saw lots of people travelling around in cars by themselves and with rising gas prices and environmental concerns, it just seemed like there could be a better way to do it.”
Zimride currently serves over 30 college campuses across the country and operates largely through Facebook, Zimmer said.
“Facebook works great with this system because people can post rideshares on their newsfeeds … it’s a great way of getting more people to use the service,” he said.
Zimride also allows users to become more familiar with the people they ride with, Zimmer said.
“Many students are more comfortable riding with other students within their university,” he said. “Zimride at UC Davis would require all users to have a UC Davis e-mail address. Facebook also helps because users can look up people that they are sharing rides with and find out if they have mutual friends…they can learn more about them.”
ASUCD Senator Trevor Taylor said he believes an online ride-sharing system would be very successful on campus.
“When I was running for senate, one of my platform goals was to establish an online carpool system,” he said. “So many of the students are from out of town and flying back and forth can get really expensive. Students constantly have to search around for rides back home and a carpool system seemed like a really good way of organizing this better.”
Unitrans general manager Geoff Straw said Zipcar could be a really useful resource for students, especially at a campus like Davis where first-years are not allowed to bring cars to school.
“It can be really tough for incoming freshmen to go from having a car to not,” he said. “Having a car rental service like Zipcar would be one more resource that we could offer potential students as an alternative to owning their own vehicle,” he said.
Straw said that the service could also provide alternative transportation to students who commute from Woodland or Sacramento.
“It is important to remember that many students do not live in Davis,” he said. “For them this could be a really useful tool. All in all, it is just another feather in UCD’s cap – just another service we can provide in addition to our great public transportation system.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.