Zipcars come to Green Mountain College in Poultney
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | September 24,2010
Cassandra Hotaling / Staff photo
Two Zipcars are shown in their parking spaces at Green Mountain College in Poultney on Thursday.
POULTNEY — Green Mountain College has added car rentals to its list of services.
The college announced Thursday it has created a partnership with Zipcar, a Massachusetts-based company that rents cars by the hour or the day.
The company has arrangements with more than 200 colleges and universities around the country, including Middlebury College and Vermont Law School.
The service is starting with two vehicles — a hybrid 2010 Honda Insight and a 2010 Honda CRX — and Green Mountain College spokesman Kevin Coburn said they will add more if demand proves sufficient.
The service is available to students, faculty and staff for an annual membership fee of $35. Cars can be reserved for anywhere from an hour to four days. Rentals start at $8 an hour and $66 for a 24-hour day.
The college will also offer memberships to Poultney residents unaffiliated with the college for $50 a year.
“We’d like to reach out to the community through the town offices,” Coburn said. “We have some brochures we’re pasting throughout town.”
The cars have made a couple of trips (the first user was a faculty member) and Coburn said five people have signed up so far.
“We’re still in the initial stages of getting the word out,” he said. “We expect it’ll have a lot of participants on campus and hopefully off campus as well.”
Coburn acknowledged that most of the people in Poultney likely have their own cars and lack the parking issues a campus typically sees. However, Zipcar Vice President Greg Winter said rentals at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and University of California-Santa Cruz get up to a third of their business from the community rather than the school.
“We’ve found the model works,” he said. “Say you’re a family and you have one car. If you need an additional car for supplemental uses, like doctor visits, it helps. We’ve also seen two-car families who’ve downsized to one car and rented a Zipcar.”
Winter said the usage varies by location and time of day.
“We don’t necessarily know how it’s going to roll out at Green Mountain,” he said.
Coburn said the idea emerged from the student Senate as a way to reduce the number of cars on campus.
“It’s a small campus and parking is limited,” he said. “We’re primarily a residential campus — 90 percent of students live on campus.”
Coburn did not know the number of cars typically on campus, but said parking capacity is regularly strained.
“We often have to ask visitors to park on Main Street,” he said. “When we have events on campus, sometimes people have to park and walk a long way.”
Coburn said it would also contribute to reducing the college’s carbon footprint as well as the town’s, if residents can be convinced to take advantage of the hybrid.
“It by no means solves the parking dilemma or fossil fuel use, but we felt it was a step in the right direction,” he said.
Sign-up for the service is at www.zipcar.com/greenmtn.