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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pending contract approval, Zipcar to arrive this semester

Published: February 8, 2008
Section: Front Page, News

zipcar-logo.jpgPending contract review, the Brandeis community could welcome Zipcars in as little as 8 weeks, Vice President of Campus Operations Mark Collins said. The contracts should be finalized next week.

Collins did qualify that depending on various factors, the cars might not arrive till the fall.

Zipcar is a car-sharing program popular across major American cities as well as neighboring colleges and universities like Tufts and Wellesley. The program allows members to rent a car for an hourly fee. Membership fees cover insurance and gas costs.

Hourly rates will range between 7 and 8 dollars said Collins. “That’s a discussion we will continue to be having,” he commented.

“We met this past Monday with Zipcar folks,” Collins said, “we’re presently reviewing the contracts…and I’m doing some financial models so we can come up with a break even proposal.”

Normally, Zipcar members must be 21 but university programs lower the minimum age to 18. Collins explained, “it was very cumbersome before, since people under 21 weren’t covered…having that insurance gap, it didn’t seem it would ever be a break even proposal.”

According to Class of 2008 Senator Asher Tanenbaum, who has spearheaded this initiative, early implementation of the program will include two Zipcars – a Prius and a Ford Escape – possibly parked near Usdan. Depending on demand, more cars may be added.

In previous interviews, Collins expressed concern that the Zipcar program might place stress on an already overburdened staff. Tanenbaum explained that the program “shouldn’t be too big of a strain on the university infrastructure…the only thing Brandeis will have to take care of is basic maintenance.”

Collins stressed that the program will only be open to the Brandeis community. However, during the summer months, he said the possibility of opening up the cars to the Waltham community existed.

“If the students rent it, the program should work,” said Collins, “the unknown is faculty and staff.” Even so, Collins was optimistic. “I think it’ a great program…we just need to do the right legwork.”

Collins hoped the presence of Zipcar would have a positive environmental impact by convincing some students not to bring their own cars to campus. According to estimates from Zipcar he explained, there could be “a reduction of 100 to 200 cars for a full-blown program.”

He added, if such were the case, “I’d get 10 cars tomorrow, especially if it’s paying for itself on top of it.”

“I think it’s time,” said Collins, “I’m excited, and I hope it’s going to work out.”

Student response was mostly positive. “It would be extremely convenient for a lot of people,” Lydia Flier ’11 remarked.

Julia Simon-Mishel ’09 agreed. “That would be awesome,” she said, “a lot of people don’t have the ability to bring cars to campus.” Zipcars, she commented, would provide “transportation that would be efficient and hopefully inexpensive.”

“I feel like it’d be a really cool idea if you’re in a bind,” said Aylin Mentesh ’09. She added, “it sounds expensive but better than a taxi.”

David Pepose contributed to this report.