Gators Have New Way to Zip Around Bay
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The Gator community has one more transportation option with the recent introduction of a car-sharing program on campus, providing priority parking, insurance, gas, and hybrid vehicles.

The beginning of this semester made SF State the 30th college or university to offer such a partnership with the company Zipcar, and is the first on the West Coast to have the program on campus.

“We are happy to find a program that is for faculty, staff and students,” said Patricia Tolar, the transportation coordinator for the Zipcar program at SF State. “The program benefits everyone.”

Zipcar parking spots on campus are the first two spots in the main parking garage off of State Drive, and according to Daniel Shifrin, the regional vice president for Zipcar, the process of requesting and driving a Zipcar is simple.

After an online request is made, the car is ready within five minutes. Members swipe what resembles a credit card in a machine, which starts a timer. Each car costs about $8.75 per hour or $65 per day.

The self-service car sharing program requires drivers to be 21 years old with a clean driving record and is offered through SF State for a $25 annual membership fee, almost a 70 percent savings compared to Zipcar’s normal joining fees for San Francisco.

Danielle Enos, 19, said she noticed the large Zipcar banner hanging on the entrance to the main parking lot where she parks her car, but is disappointed the program is not offered to her age group.

“I drive across the Bay Bridge, which still saves me money compared to BART,” said the East Bay resident and pre-med major. “I’m not sure if this program would really save me money. Maybe if they had a weekly rate it would be worth it.”

According to a study conducted by the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley, 17 U.S. car-sharing programs have 101,993 members sharing 2,558 vehicles as of June 2006.

SF State’s two-month-old partnership has 15 staff and faculty members and 45 students, according to Tolar. Yet, other students have found Zipcar’s rival as their car-share company of choice. City Car Share also offers Bay Area residents a similar opportunity with competing rates, but does not have cars on campus.

“They do the same thing, but are cheaper and are a local nonprofit organization, unlike Zipcar, which has an obnoxiously big advertising budget,” said Kira Lucier, 24, environmental studies major.

According to its Web site, City Car Share charges members $4 per hour, 44 cents per mile and $10 per month after a $30 application fee.

“I’ve been a City Car Share member for quite a while and I love it. It would be great though if it had the resources to have some pods near campus,” said Lucier.

Zipcar members are able to access over 1,800 cars in 12 states and provinces including metropolitan New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto. Other partnering schools include Georgetown, Rutgers, Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

SF State Zipcar members receive an alternative to car ownership and car rentals and, according to Shifrin, there are significant and positive “green” benefits to becoming a member.

“Our number one hope is to get people in the long run to realize they don’t need a car if they live in a city,” said Shifrin. “We are an environmentally conscious capitalist company.”

According to a recent member survey, 40 percent of Zipcar’s 75,000 members would have kept their vehicle, or would have purchased a vehicle if the car-share company were not available. Zipcar estimates it is responsible for almost 25,000 fewer vehicles on the roads.

Dozens of vehicle models are available to Zipcar members, including Minis, Prius hybrids, BMWs, VW Jettas, and pick-up trucks. SF State has one Toyota Prius and one Mazda 3 on campus.

“When I went to school, sharing a car was the last thing I wanted to do,” said Shifrin, 39. “Today, students have a better attitude toward the environment and the proof is in the use of these cars.”

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PHOTO
Alex Shonkoff | staff photographer
SF State is the first university to host Zipcar parking spots on campus for faculty and students, which started this semester. Zipcars are one of three car sharing services in the Bay Area, and is offered to SF State students age 21 and up.

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