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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Car-sharing program arrives on campus

Published: September 12, 2008
Section: Front Page

Nearly a year after a Union senator first proposed the idea, the car-sharing program Zipcar is now available at Brandeis. According to a Zipcar press release, a Toyota Matrix and a Honda CR-V are available for student use. Zipcar’s business model suggests two cars for a population like Brandeis, explained Vice President of Campus Operations Mark Collins.

Students 18 and over, faculty, and staff will be able to join the program for a fee of $35. Cars are available starting at $8.25 an hour, the release explained. The hourly rate covers fuel costs, insurance, and car maintenance. Waltham residents also have access to the program though the fee structure is different. Non-students must be 21 years old to join the program.

Zipcar is already available at universities including MIT, Harvard, Columbia, University of Minnesota, and University of Chicago.

Former Class of 2008 Senator Asher Tanenbaum approached Collins with the Zipcar idea last fall.

Zipcar was “Asher Tanenbaum’s vision,” Collins remarked. “I’m so pleased he brought it to me. He’s the one who worked with us for six months to get this off the ground.”

The Hoot reported in November that Tanenbaum had begun gathering survey data in order to gauge student interest in the program. At that time, Collins expressed support for the program but he also commented that it could only be implemented if it were financially viable for the university.

Collins and his department, along with Zipcar, were then charged with the task of developing a model appropriate for Brandeis. Contracts were under review as early as February, The Hoot reported, and at that time it was thought possible that the cars could arrive before the end of the semester. However, Collins explained in a follow-up e-mail, “I wanted them here in the fall when they could be put to use quickly. I did not want them sitting here all summer with minimal use.”

The program has garnered the support of the university’s sustainability coordinator, Janna Cohen-Rosenthal. She commented in the release, “[w]e are encouraging students to leave personally owned vehicles at home during the school year, while teaching them to make sustainable transportation choices that we hope will extend beyond their college years.”

“The success of the program is dependent on people using it,” Collins said.

“I’m excited for it,” he added. “It will make students more empowered to leave campus.”