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Smith Opens the Door to a Car Ownership Alternative

Smith College has partnered with North America’s largest car-sharing service, Zipcar, to offer the community a cost-effective alternative to car ownership.

Beginning Monday, August 28, Smith students 18 and older -- along with faculty, staff and local residents 21 and older -- will be able to reserve the use of a car by the hour or day. Gas and insurance are included in the hourly rate of $7 and the daily rate of $55.

“Giving students another reason to avoid bringing a car to campus is a win for the college and Northampton, and a natural next step in our sustainability efforts,” said Smith President Carol T. Christ.

Twenty-four hours a day and up to a year in advance, Zipcar members will be able to reserve a car online or by telephone. To become a member, an interested person must complete an online application. Once approved by the company, an applicant will receive in the mail a “Zipcard” that provides automated access to unlock and drive any Zipcar.

Smith’s Zipcars, a Toyota Matrix and a Honda Civic, will be parked in high-visibility areas on campus during the first several weeks of the semester, as well as in the Indoor Track and Tennis (ITT) facility during Central Check-in. The cars will eventually be located in the Smith College parking garage on West Street when not in use.

“Car sharing will provide the opportunity for Smith students who don’t have cars to leave campus and accomplish something they couldn’t do with public transportation, such as go to an interview, run errands or take a weekend trip to the beach or the mountains,” said Scott Griffith, Zipcar’s chief executive officer.

Smith joins more than two dozen colleges and universities throughout the country, including Harvard, Boston College, Columbia, Princeton and Georgetown, in partnering with Zipcar.

The company estimates that each Zipcar eliminates the need for more than 20 privately owned vehicles. With more than 65,000 members and 1,700 vehicles nationwide, that translates into 20,000 vehicles that it has “taken off the road,” according to Griffith.

Zipcar officials also note that using the service is less expensive than owning a car. On average, members report they save $436 each month by using the service.

To become a member and reserve a car, visit

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