By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND - More Stetson students and locals will be zipping around Volusia County.
At least that's the hope of the Student Government Association as it unveiled the Stetson University Zipcar Sharing Program on Friday, Nov. 2.
"I understand how hard it is to be bumming rides off of friends," Jeremy Rill, SGA president, said.
The Fort Myers native is among the pedestrians for his college years. Around 18 months ago, he learned about Zipcar, a company that bills itself as the "world's largest car sharing and car club service." He thought it was a perfect fit for Stetson's large population of pedestrians and set to work to get it there. He said the university's new car-sharing program is open to the community, too.
According to Emily Dudley, chief of staff at the SGA, any adult can join Zipcar for $25 and there's a $50 annual fee. The two vehicles at Stetson are open to reserve for up to several days at a time - and up to a year in advance - at a rate of $8 an hour on weekdays, and $9 an hour on weekends. That hourly rate covers fuel and insurance up to 180 miles a day. After that, there's an additional charge of 45 cents a mile. Stetson University students can join Zipcar at 18, non-students at 21.
"I realized this is perfect for on campus," she said. "Many live in a bubble on campus."
In addition to a Ford Focus, the school has a Nissan Sentra. Zipcar members will be able to reserve them online from computers or smart phones, and operate them with cards acting as the keys. Members will be able to rent vehicles at other locations throughout the U.S. and internationally, too. Mr. Rill said that while the university's program is starting with two vehicles, if demand is high enough Zipcar will add others.
The company started in 2000 in Cambridge, Mass. According to Zipcar's website, it has about 730,000 members and 11,000 vehicles.
Mr. Rill said surveys of Stetson students showed that almost 70 percent were positive about the then proposed program.
"When you talked to students who didn't have cars, that approached 90-some percent," he said,
After getting the program popular with students, he hopes it'll grow among others.
"We have to make sure it's being used and people are excited about it," he said.
To find out more about Zipcar, visit its website at zipcar.com.