Written by Wes Schmidgall
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:00
Photos by Wes Schmidgall.
PEORIA — It can be difficult for Bradley University students living on campus without a vehicle to travel around Peoria.
They often have to walk long distances, utilize bus services or rely on friends that have vehicles to go to a store or run errands. A car-sharing network is making life easier for those students.
Zipcar, the world’s leading car-sharing network with more than 767,000 members and over 10,000 vehicles located in major metropolitan areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria, started operating on the Bradley University campus in February.
Two Zipcar vehicles, including a Honda Civic and Ford Focus, are located in a campus parking lot at the corner of Duryea and Bradley avenues. The Zipcar vehicles are available on-demand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be easily reserved and accessed after a membership account has been established. To establish a membership account, those eligible for the Bradley University Zipcar program, including students, faculty, and staff ages 18 and older, as well as members of the local community ages 21 and older, must pay a $25 membership fee.
“The upfront application fee is so we can do a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) check on the driver, make sure they have a valid driver’s license,” said Zipcar General Manager Mike Serafino.
After participating in the Zipcar program for a year, members must pay an annual $35 fee. Rates on Zipcar vehicles start as low as $7.50 per hour and $69 per day. Gas, insurance and up to 180 miles of driving per day are included in Zipcar rates.
Zipcar vehicles can be reserved at www.zipcar.com/bradley. Members with smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, may download the Zipcar mobile application to make reservations, lock and unlock the vehicles and honk the horn to help locate the vehicle. Members can also use Zipcar’s “Reserve a Zipcar” app on Facebook to view available Zipcar vehicles and make, extend or cancel reservations from their Facebook account. Reservations can also be made over the phone by calling 1-866-4ZIPCAR.
Members access the Zipcar vehicles by using wireless conductivity and RFID access cards.
“The keys are actually in the car,” said Serafino. “It’s a technology-based solution that uses wireless conductivity and RFID access cards that helps our members and students get in the cars. You basically go online, reserve the car for the hour, two hours or day you want it, and then you just go right to the car and use it when it’s your time for the reservation.”
Members are responsible for refueling Zipcar vehicles that are low on gas, using a gas card that is provided for them.
“Our members are responsible for fueling the vehicle, if it drops below a quarter of a tank,” said Serafino. “Each Zipcar has a gas card in it and that gas card is available only for that driver during their reservation, so if you get a car and it has a half a tank in it and you drive 10 miles and put it back and the needle doesn’t really move, you don’t have to do anything. Only if the car drops below a quarter of a tank does a member need to refuel it.”
Zipcar would like to expand its fleet of vehicles on the Bradley University campus in the future.
“Our goal as a group here inside of Zipcar is to grow every university program and our members really dictate what we need to do, so we watch the use and we listen to the members and when it comes time to add cars and membership grows and as they use the cars more — we love adding cars to programs,” said Serafino.
Student organizations at Bradley University are encouraged to participate in the “Students with Drive” grant program. The program awards $300,000 in grants to student organizations at eligible Zipcar college and universities, every year.
“Student groups in various categories, whether it’s academic, social, sports have an opportunity to compete for and win both driving credit and cash in the ‘Students with Drive’ program, which is co-sponsored by Zipcar and Ford Motor Co.,” said Serafino. “Five different student organizations across the country, each month, each win $5,500. We also have runners-up that can win $1,000 in driving credits. Every year there’s a grand prize competition. In that competition the school and group can win $25,000, which includes a lot of driving credits as well as $10,000 for the school’s general scholarship fund.
“It’s a social media-based event. They need to establish a group account in Zipcar. They use a Facebook application we have and they compete for it (grant money). They compete for ‘Likes’ and votes online, so they promote their own voting. It’s not decided by Zipcar, it’s decided by students and other people out in the world, who’s going to win.”
To participate in the grant program, students can visit the “Students with Drive” tab on Zipcar’s University Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ZipcarU.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 14:50