LINCOLN — Psst. Want to buy a used Land Rover?
University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Matan Gill, a senior construction management major, says he's putting his up for sale this week.
Starting Monday, UNL will join more than 260 colleges and universities nationwide that offer Zipcars through a self-service car-sharing network that allows students using smartphones to rent a car faster than they can order a pizza.
“I looked at it, and it's going to save me some money,” Gill said. “I'm actually selling my car next week. I'm figuring, ‘What do I need to own a car for?'”
Gill, who lives off campus, keeps his gas-guzzler parked and usually rides his bike to campus, thus avoiding the $369-per-year cost of a campus parking permit. It costs him about $50 in fuel to drive home to Papillion on a weekend. Checking out a Zipcar for the trip would save him the cost of insurance and gasoline.
Here's how it works: The Zipcar company has stationed four cars — two 2013 Ford Focuses and two 2013 Honda Insights — in two parking lots near the residence halls on Lincoln's downtown campus. Interested students can apply online at www.zipcar.com/unl/. The company approves their membership after checking their driving record.
Members pay a $25 annual fee, which is applied to future car rentals. Rental fees are as little as $7 an hour and $66 per day, for a Focus. More cars will be added if needed.
Members reserve cars by going online or by downloading an app for their smartphone. They unlock the car by using their phone app or an electronic membership card. Ignition keys are always in the car, and the glovebox contains a gasoline credit card to keep the tank filled.
Founded in 2000 in Massachusetts, the Zipcar network has spread to campuses nationwide. Most colleges and universities face transportation challenges because of traffic congestion and population density.
The University of Iowa joins the Zipcar network this year as well, said Mike Serafino, general manager of Zipcar's university program.
Creighton University began offering Zipcars in 2010. About 240 Creighton students have joined the service, also open to faculty, family members and others associated with Creighton, said Transportation Director Mark Simanek. Two cars currently are stationed on campus.
The service enables students to avoid the expense and hassle of bringing a car to campus when they need to drive only occasionally, Simanek said.
“A lot of students drive their cars here — and they sit in the same parking spots until they leave at Christmas,” he said.
Dan Carpenter, UNL's director of parking and transit services, said he hopes Zipcars will discourage students from bringing cars to campus. The company estimates that every Zipcar results in 15 fewer vehicles on campus.
The cars get used for everything from runs to the grocery store, barber shop or laundromat to business and educational trips. They're driven on weekend visits home and for outings to bars, restaurants and parties.
Simanek said the only complaints he's received are from parents who say Creighton needs more Zipcars.
Student governments at both UNL and Creighton were instrumental in bringing Zipcars to their campus.
Eric Kamler, UNL's student body president, and Gill, a student senator who pushed for Zipcars as chairman of student government's environmental sustainability committee, said student government first began advocating for the program three years ago.
UNL, with its enrollment of about 25,000 students, pays nothing from its coffers for the four cars stationed on campus. In fact, Zipcar pays UNL $564 per car for their parking spaces. Creighton, with its enrollment of about 7,700 students, guarantees Zipcar $1,600 per month for each of the two cars on campus. However, rental fees paid by students are deducted from the monthly cost and Creighton has paid nothing for the cars for the past eight months, Simanek said.
New freshmen Christian Griepenstroh and Marco Trejo, both from Grand Island, Neb., both seemed interested in driving the bright blue Ford Focus and the red Honda Insight parked near their residence hall. Neither brought cars to campus because of the expense.
“How much does it cost? Seven dollars an hour?” Griepenstroh said. “That's cheap!”
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