Campus introduces car-sharing service to reduce car traffic


Students can identify Zipcar vehicles on campus with this logo. Photo by Tiana Morton, Photographer.

Katlin Sweeney, Editor-in-Chief

Students who do not have a car and/or are interested in saving money on gas now have the option of using a Zipcar instead of purchasing their own vehicle.

Zipcar is a car-sharing service that provides students with an additional vehicular option aside from renting a car, purchasing their own vehicle or biking to campus. Zipcar users are able to reserve a car for a couple hours or a full 24-hour period. Instead of paying the fees associated with owning their own vehicle and paying for gas to commute to campus, Zipcar users can pay a $15 membership fee their first year, which increases to a $25 membership fee for all consecutive years. Once a member, for either $7.50 an hour or $69 a day, members have access to a variety of cars (approximately 55 to 60 in the San Diego area), insurance coverage for the Zipcar vehicle and 180 miles per day in gas.

As CSUSM’s population increases, the campus is in need of a solution to accommodate the increased number of vehicles utilizing the parking structure and various parking lots, especially during high-traffic times such as the early mornings on Monday through Thursday.

Commuter Services Coordinator, Debora Schmidt, said that a car sharing program is a critical step towards addressing the campus traffic problem and both its environmental and space optimization issues. Beginning in February, there will be two Zipcars available on campus to CSUSM students, faculty and staff.

“One Zipcar can meet 12 to 15 students’ needs of personal cars, depending on the city and university,” Schmidt said. “The Zipcars will be in the parking structure beside the electric charging stations [on the first floor] next to the entrance to Lot N.”

Sustainability Manager, Juliana Goodlaw-Morris, said that providing a service such as Zipcar will help change the campus climate surrounding sustainable transportation at CSUSM.

“Our campus as a whole is trying to get more folks students, staff and faculty into using alternative transport,” Goodlaw-Morris said. “This is a great way to do this. Having ZipCar will encourage folks our campus community to think about changing how they get around. Instead of driving their car, when they need to go to the grocery store or need to carpool to a meeting, they can take a ZipCar.”

As buildings such as the Sports Arena, University Student Union and Student Health and Counseling Services are built, the east end of campus faces increased traffic and the potential for insufficient parking to accommodate the amount of cars in the area. According to Schmidt and Goodlaw-Morris, one of the primary challenges in optimizing space in the parking structure has been the presence of cars owned by students living in the dorms. Because the dorms do not have a long-term parking lot, residents at The Quad and University Village Apartments are required to purchase a parking pass and park their vehicles in the parking structure overnight.

“Many of these students park their cars on the first and second floors of the structure,” Goodlaw-Morris said. “Because those cars are typically not moving aside from during the weekend, the first two floors of the parking structure become difficult to park in.”

“We [Parking & Commuter Services] have been monitoring the vehicle impact to the campus on the east side since The Quad opened,” Schmidt said. “By bringing Zipcar to campus, we are hoping that as the housing students move in this coming fall, they can make the choice to leave their vehicle at home and still have transportation when needed.”

Because one Zipcar can be reserved by multiple people throughout the day (even at times such as midnight or 3 a.m.), there is the potential that bringing more Zipcars to CSUSM will slowly decrease the amount of cars that are driving to campus throughout the week.

“In the future, we would love to have several more Zipcars in other lots throughout campus,” Schmidt said. “This would make accessing them so convenient, regardless of where you work or live. Having them in places like Lot B would be ideal because then residents of the nearby apartments could be using the ZipCars too. I think especially when the sports center opens in fall, having ZipCar will allow people attending the games to continue taking advantage of the sprinter to come to campus and then use the ZipCar to go out to dinner after the game. This could get rid of 15 to 30 cars from entering the structure during these times.”

To learn more about Zipcar and sign up for the service, students can log onto Members of the campus community are also encouraged to attend the Zipcar soft launch during UHour on Thursday, Feb. 11 in University Hall Plaza. Both Zipcars will be on display and Zipcar representatives will be available to help attendees download the app, sign up and receive more information.