Zipcar program gets unanimous vote

By Michael Logli

The Urbana City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday night that approved the creation of a Zipcar system.

This system allows users to share the use of rental cars in order to travel through the city, resulting in less gas consumed, said Pat Pioletti, buildings and facilities manager for the city of Urbana. The system will be launched some time in October.

The four-way agreement allows Urbana to work with Champaign, the University and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District to hold two cars each in Champaign, Urbana and Campustown. Residents or students can sign up for the system through the Zipcar Web site or the city Web site and use the cars for periods of time scheduled in advance.

The cars are activated by a special card with the keys left inside the vehicle, eliminating the possibility of theft. The MTD covers all expense, maintenance and gas costs for the cars, and the profits are split four ways with each involved party.

After their use, the cars must be returned to the same spot from which they were rented.

The locations in each area have not been determined yet, Pioletti said. He expects the Urbana car rental location to be near Lincoln Square.

Though the system has failed at some university locations, it has succeeded very well in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the city of Urbana has adopted a majority of the Ann Arbor plan.

This plan will also allow for some growth. If it is successful, Pioletti said he hopes to have 10 rental cars in Urbana alone.

“It depends on how long it takes for the program to pay for itself,” Pioletti said.

City aldermen praised the program for its sustainability and benefit to the community. The city can choose to eliminate the program from its budget after a year, and it is in charge of advertisement costs for the program.

“I think this is great,” said Brandon Bowersox, Ward 4 alderman. “I encourage you to use all the support lines Urbana’s got to get more customers.”