Photo by MJ/Shelby Lubienski
Photo by MJ/Shelby Lubienski
Photo by MJ/Shelby Lubienski

By COURTNEY MORRISON, Staff Reporter

Finding a ride to class or anywhere else when you do not have a car is a hassle. The University of Michigan-Dearborn has announced a solution to this problem by partnering with Zipcar, “the world’s leading car sharing network,” meaning that the university now has cars available to be rented by students, faculty, and staff.

“I’m so excited that UM-Dearborn – The Union at Dearborn is finally on the Zipcar map and that we have begun to offer the first car-sharing program in the Dearborn area,” said Judith Modelski, assistant to the Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs.

“Our international students were constantly needing to find a ride over to nearby car rental agencies when they wanted to take a local or cross-country trip.”

Here’s a breakdown of how the system works:

First, you become a member of Zipcar. UM-Dearborn students and staff pay $15 to become a member. Then members can reserve cars by the hour or the day, starting at $5.50 per hour and $55 per day.

UM-Dearborn currently has two cars available: a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Escape.

Reservations can be made over the phone, on Zipcar’s website or members can download the Zipcar mobile app.

Downloading the app allows members to make reservations as well as unlock and lock the vehicle, honk the horn, and help locate the vehicle.

Each driver uses the Zipcar fuel credit card provided in each vehicle to get gas when needed from the gas station of their choice. The gas is charged directly to Zipcar and covered in the hourly rate. Each driver is asked to leave at least a quarter of a tank of gas when the car is returned to The Union parking space, where the cars stay when not in use.

Modelski said the idea has been in the works since last June.

“I’d like to credit the idea to Piyush Khater, one of our CECS grad students, who actually brought the idea to us last June,” Modelski said. “He contacted me and I contacted Zipcar.

“Zipcar was not able to immediately initiate a separate contract with UM-D because our anticipated volume was not large enough. However, Dearborn combined our request with U-M’s request to renew their car-sharing contract that was expiring. Zipcar’s bid proposal was selected, and now UM-D is able to join and take advantage of the university’s large-scale volume of service.”

Another aspect of the program is that it costs the university nothing.

Modelski said the university is excited to see how the program works out. Students seem to be pretty receptive to the idea so far.

“I think it’s pretty cool, especially for students who live at the Union and maybe do not have a car on campus,” engineering sophomore Erica Magnuson said.

Pre-business student Jamili Copeland agreed with Magnuson.

“I think it would be perfect for people with no transportation like myself,” Copeland said. “So I really support it.”

Members have already begun using the cars. If the demand for cars increases, the university will add cars accordingly.

The university’s contract is for a three-year period with an option to extend for two additional one-year periods.

The Zipcar program covers the Ann Arbor Campus, the Medical Campus and the Dearborn campus.

To find out more about becoming a Zipcar member, visit zipcar.com/universities/university-of-michigan.