Zipcars arrive at Green, but membership required
The ease and convenience of Zipcars is now available at T.F. Green Airport, allowing members of the car sharing service the opportunity to get around town when traveling to Rhode Island.
Zipcar is a car-sharing, membership-based service with vehicles available at 30 airports, 350 colleges and universities and in 26 major metropolitan markets, including Providence.
Chris Moulding, market manager at Zipcar Providence, explained that Zipcar enables and simplifies urban living and takes more cars off the road. Having Zipcars at airports such as T.F. Green allows members to bypass long lines at rental car counters and is more cost effective.
“You want to give flexibility to the members,” explained Moulding.
So how exactly does this process work?
Well, for starters, to use a Zipcar, one must have a membership, which consists of an application process and fee, and a membership fee of up to $60 a year. Members then pay by the hour to use a Zipcar, prices of which vary depending on the membership plan you have, where you are and what car you are renting.
For example, according to Moulding, members will pay only $9 per hour or $69 a day at T.F. Green; gas and insurance fees are included, making the program incredibly cost effective (a gas card is located in the car to be used if needed).
To rent a Zipcar, members can go online or use a mobile app on their smart phones to reserve a car. When they arrive at Green, they can walk straight past the rental counters to find the Zipcars on the fourth floor of the rental car garage. When they find the vehicle they have reserved, they simply use their Zipcar Membership Card to scan the barcode on the car’s windshield and open the car. The keys and gas card will be inside the car.
“The keys are tethered to the dash,” explained Moulding. “They never leave the car.”
Members are then free to use the car for the time they reserved it; they can drive for 180 miles per day they rent the car.
Moulding explained that the idea of “car-sharing” has led to members being very responsible and careful when it comes to the vehicles.
“It’s yours for the time you reserved it, then you bring it back,” he said.
Zipcar does driver’s checks as part of the application process. “We check your driving record,” said Moulding, explaining that minor infractions are not a red flag but major violations would be. “We want to make sure you’re a safe driver.”
With the keys kept in the car at all times, the cars also have great technology and security systems. Members lock and unlock the car using the mobile app or their member card. “When the car is locked, the key won’t start,” said Moulding, adding that the scanning of the card is what activates the car.
Although Moulding says it is not used often, there are also ways for Zipcar to track vehicles that have not been returned.
“Most members are like-minded; they’re going to bring the car back,” said Moulding, adding that because the program is member-based, drivers are conscious of other people needing the cars. “It does happen and we have policies to recover those cars.”
In most cases, Moulding explained that an emergency derailed an individual from returning the car. The company’s first step is always to call the driver and check in; if it was an emergency and the driver tells the representative where the car is parked, Zipcar will retrieve it with no issue.
If an accident were to occur, the cars are covered by insurance, but depending on the type of accident, a driver may be responsible for the deductible.
In the case of airports, as well as Zipcars that are kept throughout metropolitan areas, Moulding said the service can be beneficial for business travelers who may fly in and out for a meeting on the same day.
“You can use a Zipcar for a few hours, and it is more cost effective than renting a car,” he explained.
It can also be beneficial for those airline passengers experiencing an unexpected, multi-hour delay.
“Instead of hanging out in the airport for a few hours, you can get out, see the town for a bit and then head back to the airport,” said Moulding. In that situation, delayed passengers may be able to get out and explore Warwick, eating in local restaurants and shopping in local stores.
At T.F. Green, the program began only a few weeks ago and there are three vehicles available: a Hyundai Elantra Sedan named Mussina, a Ford Focus Hatchback named Malinois, and a Mazda 3 Hatchback named McWard. Moulding explained the cars have nicknames to help keep track of their whereabouts.
“We felt three vehicles at T.F. Green was the right fit for us,” said Moulding.
Having a Zipcar membership also doesn’t limit you to the three vehicles at T.F. Green. Members have access to the cars throughout Providence and Newport. In the city, Moulding explained there are cars kept on Exchange Street, South Main Street, and in the Biltmore Garage. He added that they try to keep cars located near residential buildings to help people who live in the city and use public transportation with errands such as grocery shopping.
“The closer we can put those types of things to members, the better,” said Moulding.
Rhode Island members also aren’t limited to Rhode Island. They would have access to cars in any of the 26 major markets, which include Chicago, New York, Miami and countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom.