Car-sharing service launches on campus

Zipcar now has two vehicles on campus, with student memberships starting at $15

TRU has received two Zipcars available for rent by the hour. The service costs $15 for a first year membership and cars can be rented for $10.75 per hour, including gas and insurance. (Martin McFarlane/The Omega)

Need to run a few errands after class but don’t have a vehicle? The addition of a car-sharing service at the university may be a cost-effective solution.

Zipcar has introduced two vehicles to campus: a Nissan Sentra and a Hyundai Elantra. Both cars are parked on Sk’lep Trail. One of the cars is equipped with a ski rack and both have winter tires.

Membership for students is currently available at a reduced $15 for the first year and $25 per year thereafter. The TRU cars are available for $10.75 per hour, or $71 per day, according to Zipcar’s website. Gas, insurance and 200 kilometres are included, and any member student 18 or older who has been licenced for more than one year can drive the vehicles. Zipcar members also have access to the service’s fleet in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna and Whistler, along with those in Ontario, the United States and Europe.

According to Zipcar, owned by car rental service Avis, members on average save $600 per month when Zipcar replaces their vehicle. Zipcar also said that it can easily allocate more cars in areas that have more utilization.

According to Jim Gudjonson, TRU’s energy manager, the university had previously started its own car sharing service that was available for staff. However, the university could not find a viable way to add students to the insurance. Zipcar was chosen from several options and allows both staff and students to borrow the vehicles.

The car service is hoped to replace vehicles for students and staff making short-distance trips and running errands. Zipcars can also be used to drive out of town and even into the United States.

“There’s been quite a bit of positive response from students,” said Gudjonson, who believes that the service will become popular on campus later this year as students try the service and consider not owning a vehicle.

“It’s going to take some time to grow, but certainly we anticipate that it will grow.”

Gudjonson also said that the introduction of a car sharing service on campus aims to increase the amount of available parking, which will be critical when construction of new buildings take away existing parking spaces. He also hopes the cars will eventually be transitioned to hybrid vehicles.

But is a Zipcar a viable option for making an out-of-town trip? It depends on your needs and situation.

For a trip to Vancouver, a Greyhound bus is the cheapest way to travel, with gas costs for a car coming in a close second. However, owning a car also has insurance and maintenance costs. A rental from Enterprise would be cheaper, but if you are under 21, a Zipcar rental is still a reasonable alternative.

For short errands and trips around Kamloops, however, Zipcar looks to be accessible and affordable.

Zipcar is available to both students and staff. Those interested in the service can sign up at zipcar.ca/truzips.