Zipcars roll onto campus - The Gonzaga Bulletin: News

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Zipcars roll onto campus

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Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 2:09 pm | Updated: 7:13 pm, Thu Sep 27, 2012.

The massive construction project in the works on the far east end of campus makes at least one thing apparent: At Gonzaga, we have a lot of cars and not a lot of space for them. From bikes to cars to longboards, Zags love their transportation, and the parking spaces are just as full as the bike racks.

GU’s recent acquisition of Zipcars may provide a solution to overcrowded lots and affordable mobility to students without access to their own set of wheels. As a part of its Climate Action Plan (CAP), Gonzaga’s Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability (ACSS) has installed two Zipcars on campus, which should prove to be advantageous for students, faculty and staff in a variety of areas.

Zipcar is a Massachusetts-based car-sharing network that allows drivers “wheels when you want them.” Members can reserve cars by the hour or by the day. Zipcar also saves drivers money by covering the cost of maintenance, insurance, gas, emergency roadside assistance and parking.

Todd Dunfield, CCASL director and ACSS representative of the vice president for student life, spoke with the Bulletin about the goals of this project.

“I’m a dreamer,” he said. “I want to see cars here. I want to see them downtown. I want to see them at Whitworth.”

This project is all about making transportation accessible, saving drivers money and eliminating dependence on single-occupancy vehicles. Estimates show that each Zipcar “on the grid” takes 15 cars off the road and reduces miles driven per person by 40 percent.

Not only will there be fewer cars taking up space, but the community also will have the chance to witness a decrease in carbon emissions, Dunfield said.

“We have grown accustomed to every person having their own car,” Dunfield explained.

Car ownership has become a rite of passage for teenagers with driver’s licenses. But is it really necessary? For college students and adults without brigades of children to chauffeur around town, car-sharing is cheaper, easier and more environmentally friendly.

“We don’t have great numbers when it comes to faculty and student carpooling,” said Dunfield, but car sharing has the potential to propel sustainability efforts on campus by encouraging GU’s staff and students to get rid of their cars or refrain from buying new ones.

Students living on campus either do not have cars or bring cars to school that spend the majority of time just sitting there. Car owners spend between $7,000 to $9,000 each year on their cars. The installation of Zipcars offers students more affordable freedom.

Zipcar fills the gap between renting and owning an automobile. While owning a car can be costly and unnecessary, renting is often a cumbersome process.

Renting a car, taking a bus, bumming a ride, or taking a taxi costs more and restricts commuters’ freedom. “I end up bugging my brother for a ride or just staying on campus,” freshman Jessica Cary explained. “It’s great to have another option.”

Zipcar members can reserve a car from their smartphones or computers at any time and access a car at any time for $7.50 an hour or $69 for a day. Gonzaga students, faculty, and staff can join for a $25 annual fee and will receive $35 in driving credits. However, the entire Spokane community will have access to these vehicles at Zipcar’s standard $60 annual fee.

Zipcar users can reserve a car for their weekly grocery shopping trips or recreational excursions, and once they’re approved to drive they have access to all 11,000 Zipcars nationwide.

Gonzaga’s Nissan Sentra and Ford Focus will live at 1200 N Standard St., between DeSmet Circle and Sharp Avenue. Being a Zag on the go just became more convenient. 

Dunfield also described the opportunities Zipcars provide those who have been restricted to walking and unsanitary public transportation.

“Students want to go off campus. Maybe they’ll think, ‘I am going to volunteer because now I can get there,’ ” Dunfield said.

Sophomore, Tori Varyu, agrees, “My brother uses Zipcar [in Seattle] and loves it. I am excited to see it at GU.”

The new cars will enable students to break out of the Gonzaga bubble’ save money, go skiing, go camping, see a concert, have off-campus jobs, or merely extend GU’s reach into Spokane. 

To learn more about Zipcars and to get a share of the discounts, stop by the Zipcar launch event on the steps of Crosby today between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Also, in celebration of Gonzaga’s 125th birthday, Gonzaga’s 125th approved member will receive an Anniversary Grand Prize from Zipcar. You can also register online at Zipcar.com/Gonzaga.

The Gonzaga community has the opportunity to join the 730,000 Zipcar members. It is no longer necessary to shove nine people into your friend’s car that only seats five when you go bowling. Just don’t do it. 

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