Zipcar is latest transportation program for students

A Zipcar station at a Metro parking lot. The Zipcar program is now available to Mason students. (Peter Flint) 

Getting from point A to point B for students without cars on-campus can be difficult, but now there is a new option for getting around.

Debuting last week was Zipcar, a car rental service open to students age 18 and older.

Zipcar will provide the university with four cars, two Scion XBs and two Toyota Prius. Two cars will be located on the Fairfax campus on Mason Pond Drive, while the other two will be located on the Arlington Campus on the top level of the Truland garage, according to Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation.

Depending on usage of the program, Zipcar may choose to bring more cars to campus.

The program allows students to rent cars on an hourly basis, and that rate includes insurance, gas and 180 miles of travel, said David Bier, chairman of the University Services Student Senate Committee.

“[Zipcar is] a really, really great transportation option if you are [an] out-of-state [student] and can’t have a car on campus. It works out really nicely,” Bier said.

According to the GMU Zipcar website students can join the program for $35 dollars a year, and can reserve the car for $8 per hour. If students go over the designated 180-mile limit, they will be charged $0.45 per additional mile.

Brian Roth, a junior communication major, who is an out-of-state student, did not have a car his first two years at Mason, and said Zipcar would have been a nice program to have last year.

“The amount I would pay is reasonable, and for the amount I would need a car for [it] is low enough that I would not be paying a lot of money to use [Zipcar],” said Roth, “I would have paid for it easily.”

Additionally, a carpooling service, Zimride, has been available for the last several months.

The service allows students to join other students in a carpooling program specifically for students with a e-mail address.

Once registered, users will be asked to enter information such as where they are going, when and at what time, if they would like to be a passenger or driver and what type of car they drive. Members will also be able to link to their Facebook page.

According to Cantor there are 400 registered Zimride users and about half of them signed up within the last month.

Starting next week, Mason and the University of Maryland will hold a Commuter Challenge.

According to Mason Parking’s website (, GMU will go head to head with UMD between Sept. 22 through Oct. 22 to “see which school can reduce its single occupancy vehicle trips the most.”

The categories within the competition include “total users for the commute calendar, . . . total CO2 reduced/participants in commute calendar, . . . total new Zimride users signed up between Sept. 1 – Oct. 22, . . . [and] total trips saved,” said Cantor, with each category awarding the university one point.

Students will be able to participate individually as well as within groups, and there will be daily prizes for students who take part in the competition, Cantor said.

The Department of Parking Services & Transportation will host a kick-off event Wednesday, Sept. 22 at the Pilot House.

From 10 a.m. – noon there will be several presentations given by faculty and staff discussing transportation and sustainability, and at 1:30 p.m. there will be a presentation about the parking and transportation department’s “master plan” that they developed with the Facilities department, said Cantor.

“This master plan has analyzed and recommended solutions both in the short and long term dealing with pedestrian paths, shuttles, biking, way finding, safety, parking supply, special events and traffic among other items,” Cantor said.

Besides Zipcar and Zimride, Mason has worked to provide students, faculty and staff with an array of alternative transportation choices including the Mason Shuttles system, and the CUE Bus, as well as more than 100 bike racks on campus and bike lanes around Patriot Circle.


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