Zipcar provides UB students with a cheaper alternative to owning a car
Sasha Unger, a freshman undecided major, doesn’t have a car of her own, but she can still drive to the doctor or the grocery store with Zipcar.
Zipcar is a car-sharing company that provides automobiles to its members. The members pay an initial fee of $25 and $7 to $9 an hour or $60 for the entire day. At UB, students use Zipcar to drive around the Buffalo area and are guaranteed a parking spot on campus.
“This is an easy and cheap way for me to drive on and off campus,” Unger said.
After students sign up on the website, they must be approved in order to drive a Zipcar. Students then reserve a Zipcar online or via the mobile app. Students pay a $25 membership fee upon sign up. Once approved, they are mailed a “zipcard” that can take anywhere from three to seven days to receive. This card unlocks the Zipcars located all around UB.
Students can find parking for Zipcar in the Student Union Lot and Fargo Lot on North Campus and Townsend Lot and Goodyear Hall Lot
on South Campus.
Some car brands available at UB are Ford Focus Sedan, Ford Focus Hatchback, Volkswagon Jetta, Mazda 2, Toyota Prius, Nissan Sentra and Ford Escape 4WD.
All Zipcars are provided with a gas card to fill up the tank and insurance is covered.
Unger first used Zipcar in the middle of her first semester at UB. Since Unger doesn’t have a car, her only other option would be to call a cab, which costs can rack up depending on the distance.
“I like that Zipcar is available for me whenever I need it,” Unger said. “I don’t have a car on campus so it’s very handy to have access to one.”
Although Unger is a fan of Zipcar, other students weren’t satisfied with the service. Christian McCartney, a sophomore political science major, had multiple problems with Zipcar.
“I signed up for Zipcar in the beginning of the semester,” McCartney said. “I originally planned to use it to drive to Notre Dame, where my girlfriend goes, but they charge you for going over a certain number of miles, so it would’ve cost me over $1,200.”
McCartney said Zipcar is only good for running smaller errands, like picking up dry cleaning or going to the store. Still, McCartney had troubles even when using the service for smaller trips.
McCartney once reserved a car from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. but didn’t receive the car until 12:20 p.m. from the previous driver, giving him 40 minutes to get to the store and back. If he returned one minute after 1 p.m., they would’ve charged him for an extra hour, he said.
“It’s total horse**** that they would charge me for going over an hour when the car was returned late,” McCartney said.
Although the numbers of students using Zipcar is confidential, the service is still used by many students, according to Sam Ackerman, a junior accounting major and student promoter representative of Zipcar.
Ackerman and Paul Kalmus, a junior finance major, another Zipcar promoter, set up an table in the Student Union to inform students about Zipcar every other Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. where they promote the Zipcar brand and services.
“We are given special deals and promotional items to advertise and reach out to the students around campus,” Ackerman said.
One of the deals they promote is the promo code, “FLUENT2015A,” that works until the end of the semester. Students join on Zipcar’s university website and later receive $50 in driving credit after paying the $25 annual membership fee with the promo code.
Ackerman explained that a standard Zipcar membership requires the driver to be from the United States and be 21 years or older. Zipcar U, the version of Zipcar used on campuses, requires the members to be 18 years or older and is also available to international students.
Ackerman and Kalmus also participate in campus-wide events such as football tailgates, “educating students about the benefits of renting one of the cars,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman and Kalmus said Zipcar reduces the demand for parking on campus.
“One great thing about Zipcar is that it has free reserved parking spaces for all their cars,” Kalmus said. “This is where you will find your car when you pick it up and where you drop it off after you’re done using it.”
Zipcar equips students with a cheaper way to get around without using their own car and taking up parking spots, Ackerman said.
Kalmus said allowing students to take their friends in the cars with them makes them feel less of a need to have a car on campus.
Zipcar can help reduce the expenses of students owning their own cars.
Dani Guglielmo is a staff writer and can be reached at email: email@example.com