Middlebury College has signed an agreement with ZipCar, the world's largest car-sharing company, starting a program on campus designed to expand the transportation options available to students, faculty and staff.
ZipCar, as part of their rapidly expanding college car-sharing program has provided the two new Toyota Hybrid Prius that now sit outside the Hillcrest Environmental Center. The company hopes to tap the college market, which ha2s been largely ignored by traditional rental car companies. After revising their insurance requirements and lowering the minimum membership age from 21 to 18, ZipCar has started similar programs on such campuses as Yale, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon.
Unlike normal ZipCar members, the college program only allows students under 21 to use the ZipCars from their particular institution, and the cars must be returned to the starting location after they are used. However, the ZipCars at Middlebury represent and important option for students without their own vehicles.
The agreement also requires that the college cover a certain number of usage hours in order to ensure that ZipCar will at least break even on its investment. This means that the college must pay for 200 hours a month, hoping that student use will grow to meet that mark over time, as the experience of other colleges and universities has suggested will be the case.
The availability of ZipCars on campus, in our case two brand new fuel efficient (not to mention ever so trendy) Toyota Prius, totally revolutionizes the way students and faculty can think about transportation. Not only does it provide a convenient and fairly inexpensive way for students and faculty to get around, the college hopes that it will actually encourage students (especially incoming Freshmen) to leave their cars at home and rely on ZipCar instead. Lets face it, when you think about living in a rural setting for four years, its important that you know how your going to get around. If you need to visit family or friends for a weekend, go to concerts in Burlington or get to a trailhead, your going to need a car. ZipCar lets you walk up to that car, swipe your card and go (keys and pre-paid gas card already in the car).
By providing an array of alternative transportation options, Middlebury stands to greatly decrease the number of students who arrive at Middlebury with their own vehicles. This reduces parking congestion, and, according to ZipCar's numbers, decreases greenhouse gas emissions through a combination of more efficient vehicle types and lower overall usage.
The college also specifically requested the Hybrid Prius for the program, which means that every time a student uses the ZipCar program to go see a friend, drive to Burlington for a concert or head out to a trailhead, they will be doing so at a snappy 46 miles per gallon average.
Every step the college takes towards expanding alternative (and green) transportation options is another piece of the overall effort to reduce our environmental footprint. 45 students have already signed up for the program here at Midd, and the cars have been taken out. As the program expands, so will its impact on parking and emissions, making our collective footprint that much smaller.
Click here for more information about the program and how to sign up for a Middlebury ZipCar account.
Click here for the Middlebury College press release.