At the end of April, Zipcar announced a big expansion of its world-leading car sharing network into Austin, Texas. The new programme is an effort collaborated with Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Council Member Chris Riley. It now provides residents, businesses and visitors in the city with access to convenient transport options that cut traffic congestion, emissions and parking demand in the downtown area. The scheme is also expected to help create a more pedestrian-friendly area.
Zipcar’s service offers members, who can register online for a one-time fee, access to vehicles at any time. The cars can be hired for a little as one hour to as long as the member needs it, and they don’t have to have the vehicle back by a certain time or returned to a specific place. The company’s hourly and daily rates include up to 180 miles of driving a day, reserved parking, roadside assistance, insurance and fuel.
Aside from residents, students and visitors, local businesses’ workers will be able to take advantage of the Zipcar programme as well. The company offers a Zipcar for Business scheme that provides discounted driving Monday through Friday, which helps businesses reduce parking requirements, save money and meet environmental sustainability targets by providing employees with access to the network.
The Zipcar launch has seen a range of 40 vehicles brought into Austin – including sedans, hatchbacks, pickup trucks, SUVs and hybrids. The cars are located conveniently across the downtown area and on the main campus and west campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The car sharing network has been offered on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus since January last year. Students, faculty, other staff and the local community have received it well. Now, however, it has been expanded to include more of the City of Austin. This officially makes Austin the 18th major metropolitan market for Zipcar, which has opened its new office at Congress Avenue and 107 East 10th Street.
Zipcar president and chief operating officer Mark Norman says they built a strong member base in Austin through the success of their offering at the University of Texas at Austin, and they see the city as a strong market for car sharing. With their convenience, flexibility and reliability – combined with a variety of functional and fun vehicle options – their members now have more choices to meet their transport needs. They offer the option to drive what, how, when and where they want.
Norman added that, although Zipcar can entirely replace car ownership, it’s the perfect second vehicle for households with two drivers who need occasional access to a second car. It’s also great for local businesses’ staff to use when they need a car during the workday. Additionally, members aged 21 and older have access to the entire network in their other markets across the US, Canada and the UK, providing a vehicle when they need one on the road as well.
Mayor Leffingwell said they are pleased to welcome Zipcar and believe the programme is a good fit with their approach to smart living and protecting the environment. Council Member Riley commented that the city continues striving to be a leader in providing innovative transport options for residents. University of Texas at Austin alternative transportation manager Blanca Juarez added that they chose to bring Zipcar onto the campus to introduce everyone to car sharing, and they are pleased with its success and popularity.
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