Revving Up on Campus
Jessie Fredlund ’07
Now entering its fourth month,
Smith’s contract with Zipcar, the nation’s largest
car-sharing service, has put more than a hundred Smith community
members in the driver’s seat.
The two Zipcars at Smith -- a
Toyota Matrix and a Honda Civic -- stay busy with several
trips almost every day of an average four to five hours each,
says Christine Hopkinson, business development manager at
“Usage at Smith has met
and exceeded our expectations,” she said.
Smith’s Department of Athletics
has its own account, becoming the first Smith department to
become a Zipcar member.
The Zipcars are available 24
hours a day to Smith students who are 18 and older, and to
Smith faculty, staff and local residents who are 21 and older
for rent by the hour or day. Gas and insurance are included
in the hourly rate of $7 and the daily rate of $55.
About 80 percent of Smith Zipcar
reservations are made by those in the college community, the
remainder made by Northampton residents.
One reason for the program’s
success may be the lowered minimum age for student membership.
(Most Zipcar locations and auto rental agencies require drivers
to be at least 21.)
College administrators hope that,
in addition to providing a resource for members of the Smith
community and the public, the Zipcars help address the need
for parking spaces.
“We certainly expect that,
as the program continues to grow, it will reduce parking demand,”
said Laurie Fenlason, Executive Director of Public Affairs
The company estimates that each
Zipcar eliminates the need for more than 20 privately owned
On a broader scale, those at
Zipcar endeavor to contribute to a healthier environment by
reducing traffic congestion. According to the company’s
Web site, more than 40 percent of Zipcar members sell their
cars or opt not to buy one. As a result, many older cars are
being replaced by the newer, cleaner Zipcars. Zipcar members
also cut down on the time they spend driving by as much as
Those interested in joining Zipcar
may . Once they receive their “Zipcard”
in the mail, members can then reserve cars online or over
the telephone up to a year in advance. Once a car is reserved,
the Zipcard unlocks the doors.
Smith joins more than two dozen
colleges and universities throughout the country, including
Harvard, Boston College and Columbia, in partnering with Zipcar.
“Assuming the program keeps
performing as it has been,” said Hopkinson, “the
only change we would hope to make is to work with the college
to add [additional] Zipcars to campus.”