September 28, 2012 in City

Zipping Zags

Car-sharing program introduced at GU with hopes of changing view of driving
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Gonzaga University students, on foot, bikes and skateboards, make their way past a Zipcar Thursday.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Gonzaga University is bringing a popular international car-sharing program to Spokane.

Zipcar Inc. held a kickoff campaign in front of the Crosby Student Center Thursday that attracted interest from dozens of students.

Zipcar has become a popular transportation option on campuses and urban areas on the West Coast. The company promotes itself as an environmentally sustainable transportation solution.

Users become Zipcar members for $25 a year, which includes a $35 driving credit.

Each car is equipped with an electronic locking system that allows students to book car use online 24 hours a day. It costs $7.50 an hour or $69 a day, which pays for mileage, gas and insurance.

Up to 180 miles can be driven for the price of the daily fee. Additional miles are 45 cents each.

The cars can be reserved for weekend trips or longer.

“These are wheels when you need them,” said GU’s Todd Dunfield, who heads the school’s service learning program. He said the cars will help students get to and from volunteering at schools, nonprofits and other agencies.

Dunfield said he hopes the addition of the Zipcar program will change the way students think about transportation and driving.

The company offers business and personal driving plans in major cities.

Applicants for membership undergo a check of their driving records.

He said he thinks Spokane is large enough to support an off-campus program based in the downtown area.

GU’s program is operating with a blue Ford Focus and a silver Nissan Sentra.

The cars are parked near the Crosby Student Center.

According to GU, studies show that each shared car removes 15 personally owned vehicles from the road and reduces driving by about 40 percent. Zipcar members are more likely to use transportation options such as transit or bicycles, GU said.

A local contractor has been hired for maintenance, repair and cleaning.

The original version of this story indicated wrongly that adult applicants were subject to a criminal background check.


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