SU Zipcar use triples in the past 18 months

Students and faculty are utilizing Zipcars a lot more than when they first arrived on campus, which is not only better for the environment, but it's economical, too.

You may have places to be and things to do, but you don’t necessarily have to have your own car (or a Centro pass) to do them.

In the past 18 months, the number of people registered for Syracuse’s Zipcars car sharing program tripled, bringing the number of members up to 1,150. Of that group, 1,077 are students.

Rick Martin of SU’s Department of Sustainability attributes the success to people catching onto the idea that they can use the Zipcars and not necessarily have to depend on having cars of their own on campus, whether it’s students, faculty or staff.

“Our overall approach here is to cut down on the number of vehicle miles traveled while still giving students, faculty, staff the flexibility to do what they need to do, when they need to do it,” he said.

Martin said that Zipcars allow faculty and staff to use alternate methods of transportation to get to campus, without having to worry about being unable to duck out in an emergency or make a grocery run after work.

For students, Zipcars can be an encouragement not to bring their own cars either.

“Most student cars sit in parking lots for four or five days a week,” he said. Martin also talked about “impulse” trips students might be prone to make, not because they have to go anywhere, but for the sake of using the car.

“The Zipcar makes it possible for students to go where they need to go, but it’s not quite the attractive nuisance that having your own car on campus would be,” he said.

Zipcar is a car-sharing program that lets people register then reserve cars online. It costs $7 - $8 per day, or $66 a day, according to the SU Zipcar site.

Currently, there are seven Zipcars on campus, located in various lots. According to Al Sauer, director of SU Parking and Transportation, the cars are in use about 70 percent of the time.

Sauer said Zipcars were brought to campus four years ago when the university was “looking for fuel efficient transportation options for faculty, staff and students.”

It was also a way to enhance the mass transit system.

Besides the convenience of having access to a car, Zipcar also helps promote sustainable living.

SU counts the use of cars to get to and from campus in its greenhouse gas inventory, so faculty and staff choosing to take the Centro to work and reserving a Zipcar should the need arise, helps decrease those greenhouse gases.

Martin discussed the long term effects of getting students used to sustainable living and looking at what they can do differently in their lives to deal with sustainability issues.

“What you’ve got to do is take a step back and look at the problem and say ‘okay, what could I be doing that’s different from what I normally do, but would still work for me?’” Martin said. “This is just one example. If someone even just thinks about that, even if they still decide to bring their car, the act of thinking about it seriously and engaging with the possibility is going to help them be more open to other options that are coming down the road.”


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