Zipcar membership doubles after minimum age lowered

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Since Zipcar implemented changes to its program over the summer, the number of Zipcar members has almost doubled, according to the Brown Transportation Office. Last July, Zipcar lowered the minimum age for drivers from 21 to 18 and added two more cars to its fleet to raise the total number of cars on campus to seven.

Zipcar is a car rental company that offers “self-service access to cars 24/7,” according to its Web site. After a membership fee of $30 a year, members can pay for hourly or daily usage for a price that includes gas and insurance.

According to Carleia Lighty, the transportation manager for Brown, the number of Zipcar users at Brown has increased from 472 to 790 since July, when the changes were put into effect. Roughly 60 percent of users are students, Lighty estimated, while roughly 40 percent are faculty and staff.

The service is not only for those affiliated with Brown, she noted, but for others the age minimum remains 21, and the rates are higher.

The Zipcar program has “realized over 100 percent growth” in users and vehicles at Brown in the past three years, said Matt Malloy, Zipcar’s vice president of new market development. He attributed the program’s success to an “ongoing relationship” that Zipcar has with Brown.

“What’s great about it is you have seven cars to pick from. If you need a car (for) just one hour, you can get one. You can’t normally rent a car like that ­- you gotta do 24 hours,” said Lighty. “You don’t have to deal with all the insurance and parking of the personal vehicle and just everything that goes along with having your vehicle.”

For Pete Ciullo ’12, Zipcar made things easier when he went with his friends to attend a concert in Massachusetts. Ciullo has used Zipcar twice – he first used the service last December – and has had no difficulty booking the cars for travel.

The pricing, Ciullo said, is “pretty fair” and “pretty inexpensive” because the cost would usually be divided among friends.

But Marielle Giancarlo ’11 cited price as the largest deterrent to using Zipcar.

Despite the perks of Zipcars, many students have yet to try the service, and several interviewed by The Herald said they didn’t have the need for it. Some were unsure what Zipcar was, while others were unaware that Zipcar operated with a minimum age of 18.

Emily Reese ’11 found Zipcar “appealing,” while Cydney Dupree ’11 said that she has “been wanting to” use Zipcar, though neither had tried it.

Zoe McKinnell ’12 also intends to rent a Zipcar once she has her license. “Many students use Amtrak to get around, but Zipcar would be cheaper.”

“We’re proud of the program,” Lighty said.

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