Each year students at UR wrestle with the problem of whether the hassle involved in owning a car and housing it on campus is worth the freedoms it brings. Parking spots cost a lot of money, are generally far from dorms and if you try parking closer you get a ticket. Not to mention that most cars sit and collect snow during winter. Parking is by far the largest complaint among students. To make this decision easier, campus administrators seem to have found a good substitute to car ownership – Zipcars.
This is a great example of the University addressing a fundamental student need. Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf spearheaded the program to bring low-cost rental cars to campus and thus provide a solution to a major problem on campus.
The benefits of this service are clear. Do you want to go grocery shopping? Instead of paying $20 each way for a cab to the Pittsford Wegmans or waiting until Saturday for a bus, you can pay $7 an hour or $60 a day. Do all your errands and work on your own schedule. Best of all, when you’re done you don’t have to walk a mile from the parking lot back to your room.
Of course it isn’t as simple as $7 an hour. Each student has to pay a $30 yearly fee, and if you use the service infrequently that can prove to be costly. However, you can always split the cost between friends if you take the car in groups. And, no matter how you look at it, if you are an infrequent driver in the end Zipcar is going to be cheaper than car ownership. The car-sharing program takes out the most expensive part of owning your own car – there is no gas, no maintenance, no parking fees and no parking tickets.
It’s too early to say whether this program will be as successful as it can be. Of course, in the short term, as long as students are taking these cars off campus the program will stay. In the long run, though, this program has a lot of potential. Students can go off campus, explore the city, support local businesses, gain a greater appreciation for the Rochester area and perhaps, many students can now stop bringing their cars to school altogether.