By MARIDITH GEUDER
A new program being launched by Mississippi State with the 2011 fall semester will provide students with “wheels when they want them” by introducing car sharing on campus.
Through a partnership with Zipcar, the world’s leading car-sharing network, four self-serve, fuel-efficient vehicles will be located in a high-pedestrian-traffic area of central campus this fall, said Everett Kennard, the university’s manager of transportation. The cost-effective and convenient transportation option will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all students ages 18 and older.
Gas, insurance, reserved parking spots, roadside assistance and up to 180 miles per day, are included in the hourly and daily Zipcar rates. Cars can be reserved for as short as an hour or for up to four days, and rates on all Mississippi State vehicles will start as low as $8 per hour and $66 per day (24 hours).
The annual membership fee for anyone affiliated with the campus is only $35, and students can sign up to join the program by visiting www.zipcar.com/msstate . Zipcar accepts all valid licenses, including those held by international students.
“We see this as a valuable service to students who may not have a car on campus, but need short-term transportation to run errands or to make short trips,” Kennard said.
MSU Student Association President Rhett Hobart of Greenville was among those advocating the new campus service.
“We’re excited to partner with other campus entities to bring this service to Mississippi State,” Hobart said. “This is a program that has been successful at many of our peer institutions across the country, and we’re thrilled to bring it to the state of Mississippi.”
For students, it offers some welcome alternatives, he added. “It provides great benefits in allowing them to have convenient access to the cost-effective program, all while helping reduce the demand for parking on campus and having a positive impact on the environment.”
Hobart said participating students with smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, may make reservations by downloading the Zipcar apps--which can also be used to lock and unlock the vehicles, as well as honk the horn. Reservations can also be made using Zipcar’s website or over the phone.
Once a student becomes a member, they will receive a keyless access card called a “Zipcard” in the mail. To use the vehicle, the member can simply hold the Zipcard above the sensor on the driver side windshield to unlock the doors. The keys are already inside, so the member can simply drive away, and return the vehicle to its location at the end of the reservation.
“We hope to see many MSU students ‘zipping’ around town in these,” Hobart said.