EUGENE, Ore. -- At 15th and University, a Honda Insight Hybrid and a Ford Focus sat ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“We’re in one of our brand new Zipcars,” said University of Oregon student Sophie Luthin as she sat inside the black Honda Insight on Monday.
There are four Zipcars on the University of Oregon campus with reserved parking spaces. There are also four WeCars available for car sharing.
The market is growing at the UO because of students like Luthin.
For her, getting around Eugene without a car is a challenge, but she said having a car on campus is even worse.
After today, Luthin said when she does need wheels, she’ll have them.
And those wheels have their very own parking space.
“Right near the center of campus,” she said, sitting inside the Honda Insight parked outside the student union building, “which is a really great location for students to come and find the Zipcars. So, this is kind of our home base for the new initiative.”
On Monday, Zipcar announced it was extending its car sharing program to colleges across the nation. The company plans to be on 45 campuses.
Zipcar spokeswoman Colleen McCormick said the company is expanding to colleges like the University of Oregon to meet an increasing demand for alternate transportation options.
Luthin, the environmental advocate for the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, said the ASUO has been working on getting more car sharing options since earlier success of We Car a few years ago. She said it’s all part of the ASUO’s sustainability initiative.
“Those two services complement each other and allow students to not only have cars, but to share rides,” she said. “So, they’re using more sustainable cars and using those cars less often.”
Luthin said Zipcar will also be part of the solution for the parking problem on campus.
She said there just isn’t enough parking spaces for students, and the university’s growth is only making the problem worse.
“One example is the freshman in the dorms,” she said. “Parking on campus, if you live on campus, is extremely expensive. It costs hundreds of dollars.”
According to Zipcar, the cost to rent one of their vehicles is $7 an hour or $66 a day. In addition, members pay a $25 annual fee to register for the service. Gas, insurance and road-side assistance is included in the rental costs. And renters can drive up to 180 miles per day without incurring additional fees.
“The more opportunities that students have on campus to use car sharing services and to use these alternate transportation services, the better,” said Luthin.