Campus News

Zipcar helps students without cars zoom through Houston


Electrical engineering freshman Audrey Wang and biology freshman Kevin Nguyen use Zipcar to get across campus and avoid parking problems. | Nikki De Los Reyes / The Cougar

Students no longer have to rely on that one friend who owns a car when they want to make a midnight Whataburger run.

Over the past two years, the American car sharing company, Zipcar, has been introduced to the UH campus. This service allows students to have immediate access to a vehicle that is parked only a short walk away. All it takes to activate the car is a license and a plastic card.

Following a few simple steps, anyone can be behind the wheel of a Zipcar in no time.

Once a student applies for a Zipcar membership online and it is approved, he or she will receive a Zipcard, which serves as the car key.

The next step it to reserve a vehicle, whether it is for a trip to the grocery store or a road trip back home, it can be done from any mobile device.

“It was really easy,” electrical engineering freshmen Audrey Wang said. “I just walked out of class to the parking lot and left (in the car.)”

Considering the high concentration of parked cars around campus, it can be difficult to leave  without avoiding traffic or to even to find a parking spot. Zipcar was created to help college campuses around the nation get rid of campus congestion, parking problems and pollution.

“We focus our marketing efforts toward on-campus residents as an alternative to bringing a car to campus,” UH Director of Parking and Transportation services Robert Browand said. “By focusing on these students we can work toward reducing the number of cars on campus that are parked in the lots on a continual basis.”

Not many students living on campus need to bring their own cars to campus when they can have a Zipcar waiting for them in the parking lot.

Zipcar has continuously gained popularity among the students since it has been introduced.

Zipcar accumulated 400 members over the past year, with an average of 200 reservations for cars made each month.

UH Zipcar memberships must pay a one-time only $25 application fee in addition to varying fees according to the selected plan.

Occasional drivers pay $8.50 per hour or $69 a day while monthly members pay $7 per month plus the hourly or daily fee. Extra value members pay $50 per month and receive a discounted daily and hourly rate at $62.10 and $7.65, respectively.

First-time UH users get a reduced membership for $15 a year.

Some students would rather use a less costly mode of transportation.

“They are convenient but as a college student, I’d rather use cheaper transportation like the Metro,” psychology sophomore Mitchell White said.

While Zipacar may be more costly than other transportation methods, gas and insurance are already accounted for.

“I was a little concerned on whether the car would work properly or was inspected,” Wang said, “but everything ended up working fine.”

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