Iowa City introducing car-sharing program

The University of Iowa and the city of Iowa City announced a new car sharing program yesterday, available to local residents as well as to university students, faculty, and staff. Iowa City is already bike-friendly, well-served by public transit and the most walkable city in Iowa. Car sharing will be an excellent option for Iowa City residents who need a car only occasionally for errands or day trips. Many cities in other states have similar car sharing services. A friend of mine has used Zipcar for years and found it much cheaper than making monthly payments for a car, insurance, and parking in his area.

More details on the new car-sharing program are after the jump. On a related note, Erin Gustafson wrote a piece for the Sierra Club's blog about the 30 bike-sharing programs that have popped up around the U.S. in recent years. Members of the Des Moines Bike Collective and Iowa Bicycle Coalition helped get Des Moines B-cycle going downtown.

City of Iowa City press release, August 22:

ZIPCAR COMES TO IOWA CITY

The City of Iowa City and University of Iowa today announced the launch of a new program with Zipcar, Inc., the world's leading car sharing network, to offer car sharing on campus and in the local community. The convenient transportation option is now available at an affordable rate 24 hours a day, seven days a week for students, faculty, and staff at the University of Iowa ages 18 and older, as well as members of the local Iowa City community ages 21 and over. Those interested in joining can visit www.zipcar.com/uiowa or www.zipcar.com/iowacity.

The Zipcar program will launch with six vehicles located on the University of Iowa campus, and an additional four vehicles located throughout Iowa City. Zipcars on the University of Iowa campus will be conveniently located between Hillcrest and Quad Residence Halls on Byington Road at the Quad Meters and on the west side of Clinton Street, in front of Burge Residence Hall. Zipcars will also be located on the west end of Iowa Avenue at the Clinton Street intersection and on Linn Street in front of the Old Public Library.

"While we have many environmentally friendly transportation options on campus and in Iowa City-public transit, van pools, carpooling, walking and biking-this service fills that gap when you need short-term access to a car," said Liz Christiansen, director of the UI Office of Sustainability. "We hope that more people will become aware of this option and consider leaving their cars at home."

Chris O'Brien, Iowa City transportation services director, added, "The City of Iowa City is excited about the arrival of Zipcar to the area that resulted through the partnership with the University of Iowa. This fills a previously unmet transportation need and we hope to see it enhance what we feel is already a strong transportation system. Whether through walking, bicycling, the use of mopeds or public transit, this community continues to expand its use of alternative modes of transportation. Zipcar will serve as a complement to these modes, while also providing options for one car families and individuals who prefer not to own a personal vehicle. We see our relationship with Zipcar as a natural fit for this community and look forward to a continued partnership."

Dave Ricketts, UI director of parking and transportation, said he's eager to see the program in action in Iowa City.

"While there is no cost or obligation to the UI or Iowa City (aside from reserving 10 parking spots), I hope we can see a drop in parking demand and traffic congestion - such as it is in a city the size of Iowa City," Ricketts says.

This year, University of Iowa members can join for $25, with rates on campus Zipcar vehicles starting as low as $7 per hour and $66 per day. Members of the local Iowa City community can join for a $25 application fee, plus a $60 annual fee. Gas, reserved parking spots, insurance, roadside assistance and up to 180 miles per day are included in the hourly and daily Zipcar rates on all Zipcar vehicles. Cars can be reserved for time periods as short as an hour or for several days.

"We are thrilled to bring Zipcar to the University of Iowa and Iowa City. Cost-savings, convenience, and reduced demand for parking are just some of the benefits that we are confident the community will experience by the availability of Zipcar," said Michael Serafino, general manager for Zipcar University. "Since each car shared takes approximately 15 privately owned vehicles off the road, Zipcar can also help reduce the community's overall carbon footprint and impact on the environment."

Participating members with smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, may download the Zipcar mobile application to make reservations, lock and unlock the vehicles as well as honk the horn to help locate the vehicle. Members can also use Zipcar's "Reserve a Zipcar" app on Facebook to view available Zipcars and make, extend or cancel a reservation all from their Facebook account. Reservations can also be made over the phone or by using the Zipcar website.

Zipcar has established partnerships with more than 250 universities across the US. For more information on how to become a member of Zipcar at the University of Iowa or in Iowa City, please visit www.zipcar.com/uiowa or www.zipcar.com/iowacity.

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