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UI collaborating with city on new car-sharing service

BY JORDYN REILAND | FEBRUARY 07, 2012 7:20 AM

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Students at the University of Iowa may soon have another method of transportation.

Following a recent collaboration with the city of Iowa City, the UI will soon provide a car-sharing service to students and community members — with a lessened age restriction.

Jim Sayre, associate director for parking and transportation at the UI, said all UI students who are at least 18 would be able to rent a car.

"There would likely be an age restriction," Sayre said. "We haven't selected a vendor, but it's most likely that if you are a university student, you would have to be 18 [to rent a car]."

Most rental-car facilities have legal age restrictions and fees for renters who do not meet the requirements. The legal age to rent a car in Iowa without a fee is 25, but consumers can rent at age 20 with a fee.

Bill Nelson, the manager of the Iowa City branch of rental company Hertz Rent-a-Car, said a lack of fees and restrictions in the upcoming car-sharing service may cause some competition for the rental-car business.

"It'd be competition for us," he said. "It'd make it a little harder to the get the customer."

Hertz's underage fee is $15 per day.

But Cambus manager Brian McClatchey said the new service will not make any competition for public transportation.

"It expands the opportunities for students and staff to get to the locations they need, and it may reduce the need for students to bring cars to campus," McClatchey said. "We are certainly supportive of the experiment, and it's a good chance it'll be successful here in the community."

Sayre also said the university and the city do not anticipate any costs upfront. The specific costs will depend on the vendor that provides the cars, but renters will likely have to pay an hourly rate — including gas and insurance — as well as a possible yearly membership fee.

UI Student Government Vice President Brittany Caplin said she thinks the service would be useful.

"There are definitely times where us as a student organization needed a car for a Board of Regents meeting or a different event off campus," she said. "[The new rental service] would definitely be used."

Other universities have similar rental-car services.

Ian Stewart, a sophomore at Middlebury College and former Daily Iowan employee, said his year-and-a-half experience with ZipCar — a nationwide car sharing service — has been a positive one.

"Going to school out of state, I don't have a car," he said. "You [also] don't have to pay for gas, which is a big bonus."

ZipCar's costs include an $8 -per-hour fee and a $25 yearly membership fee.

Stewart said ZipCar's major benefit is the lack of an age restriction compared with a rental-car service.

"You have to be 25 to rent a rental car," Stewart said. "It's perfect for those that don't meet the requirement."


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