After introducing an hourly car rental program last year, West Virginia University is making the service more accessible this fall.
WVU is joining forces with Zipcar, an international car-sharing company that serves areas throughout the United States including Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and serves international locations in Toronto, London and Vancouver.
Five cars of various types from Zipcar at various locations around campus for use by the hour to program members. The program replaces the WeCar program launched last fall. WeCar members will be able to switch to Zipcar free of charge and new members will pay $35 for a yearly membership, which can be used toward rental fees for the first month of membership.
Rental ranges from $6.80 to $8 an hour during the week based on peak times and up to $9 on weekends. Daily rates are $66 during the week and $72 on Saturday and Sunday. The costs of insurance and gas are included.
“You just pay your $8 an hour, drive the car and bring it back,” said Eric Rosie, assistant director for parking administration at WVU’s Office of Transportation and Parking.
The new cars will be placed where the WeCars are now: two on Maiden Lane between the Mountainlair and Stalnaker Hall, two beside the Evansdale Residential Complex and one near the Honors College. Rosie said that as staff track how often cars are used and demand increases, they will evaluate whether to move the cars or add more.
Hugh Kierig, director of Transportation and Parking at WVU, said the car-sharing program helps make reliance on alternative transportation possible.
“We tell students, ‘Don’t bring a car to campus’ because of parking issues and traffic congestion, and the Zipcar just provides another option for students who don’t bring a car,” he said. “They not only have free access to Mountain Line and PRT, but they now have access to a car whenever they need it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
A key feature of the Zipcar service is that drivers between 18 and 21 years of age are able to use the cars at WVU without any additional paperwork. Users 21 and older can access Zipcars anywhere else they are available.
Kierig said the Zipcar program offers a large degree of flexibility for users.
“If they’re going to London they can rent a Zipcar there, and if they’re going to Canada they can do the same,” he said.
Students, faculty, staff and other area residents may join Zipcar. Approximately 50 people were enrolled in WeCar at WVU with more interested in joining.
Rosie said with 8,000 parking spaces spread between approximately 32,000 people at WVU, the university has to offer ways to minimize traffic congestion. He said the service is convenient for students to use when the PRT and Mountain Line bus service are not available, do not go to the necessary destinations or would be impractical.
“If you’re going to Walmart to buy a TV, you can’t haul it back on the Mountain Line,” he said.
And Rosie is hoping that staff will find the cars useful, thereby using university vehicles less.
“One of the things we’ve even hoped it will do is reduce the amount of fleet vehicles that departments have,” Rosie said.
Zipcar is being offered at more than 100 universities in North America, including the University of California system, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, University of Michigan, University of Florida, University of Virginia, Yale University, University of Illinois, Brandeis University and within the State University of New York system.
WeCar will phase out by Aug. 1 and the cars from Zipcar are expected to arrive before the first day of classes on Aug. 23.
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