UConn partners with Zipcar, giving students new ways to zip around

Zipcar's recent partnership with UConn gives students without a car on campus the opportunity for 24/7 vehicle access on campus. (kennejima/Flickr Creative Commons)

Zipcar's recent partnership with UConn gives students without a car on campus the opportunity for 24/7 vehicle access on campus. (kennejima/Flickr Creative Commons)

The University of Connecticut has teamed up with Zipcar, a new car-sharing service that gives students access to vehicles on campus.  

There are ten cars currently stationed on UConn’s campus, located at Northwest Residence Halls, Towers Residence Halls, Field House, Whitney Road, and the Nathan Hale Inn. Students and staff age 18 and older, and members of the surrounding community 21 years or older can access these cars 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to UConn Today.

“Zipcar provides members with access to a variety of cars—small cars, big cars, etc.—in cities, campuses and airports around the globe. Once you join, you can reserve by the hour or day, on-demand or up to a year in advance,” ZipCar public relations manager, Lindsay Wester, said.

The new service can be managed through an app available on both Apple and Android devices. Students can download the app and create an account to become a member. Through the app, members have full access to all of Zipcar’s features, such as making reservations, choosing your vehicle, and locking and unlocking the car. As a backup, members are sent a Zipcard, which can be used to unlock your vehicle by tapping on the windshield.

“Zipcar provides students with an alternative to the high cost and hassle of owning a car on campus,” Wester said.

UConn’s students pay only $15 to become a member. Rates for Zipcar vehicles on campus start as low as $7.50 per hour and $69 per day. Gas, insurance, and up to 180 miles of driving per day are some of the features included in Zipcar rates, according to UConn Today.  

“Students who join save an average of $20 per month on transportation according to a first-of-its-kind academic study by UC Berkeley,” Wester said.

At UConn, students cannot have a car on campus until they earn a certain amount of credits. However, students might occasionally need to go off campus.

“Zipcar would be useful in icy conditions if I need to run to the shop for something,” Jared Bianchini, a third-semester student currently studying abroad at UConn, said.

“I was thinking of getting a Zipcar to go to Boston for a day. Being an exchange student, it’s convenient to have a car available to me,” Sam Fackender, a third-semester student currently studying abroad at UConn, said.

A few students who have used Zipcar said the service wasn’t what it seemed.

“I got in, the car was trashed and the tank had 15 miles of gas in it. I went to fill it with gas and the gas card didn't work so they told me to use my card and that they'd reimburse me. It took them about 10 days to reimburse me. I contacted customer support several times and they were just awful. I don't recommend it,” third-semester veterinary pathobiology major, Yoshua Goodman said.

“I've used zip car in New Hampshire and they're actually really good, besides trying to reserve a time last second. There are really no problems whatsoever. One time I had a small issue with getting gas, that I had to pay on my own because the card wasn't working and I called Zipcar and they said just take a picture of the gas receipt and email them it and in three days I was reimbursed,” fifth-semester student, Garrett Fernstrom said.

Though Goodman and Fernstrom had different experiences with Zipcar, both said they thought positively of the service beforehand. There still lies a responsibility in each driver to take care of the car and leave it in good condition for the next driver.

This new technology gives students the freedom to access vehicles on campus when need be. There are also many benefits to the university, such as reducing demand for on-campus parking, alleviating congestion and providing an alternative transportation solution that reduces carbon footprints. Zipcar is continuously improving their service and working to expand their customer base, according to Zipcar’s website.

“Zipcar is the largest and most longstanding campus car-sharing provider with a presence on more than 500 colleges and universities across North America, from small private colleges to large public universities. Zipcar is continuously looking to provide more people in more places with access to car sharing and eliminating the cost and hassle of personal car ownership,” Wester said.

Reservations can be made on the app. More information about UConn’s partnership with Zipcar can be found at zipcar.com/universities/university-of-connecticut.

Emma DeGrandi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.degrandi@uconn.edu.