ZipCar vehicles arrived on the University of Iowa campus nine years ago to expand transportation options for students and reduce parking demand . The service now terminates its contract with UI, although on-campus parking remains a problem for students and faculty.
"The University and the City of Iowa City brought carpooling to the community to provide another transportation option and reduce the demand for parking," wrote passenger programs manager Michelle Ribble in an email to The Daily Iowan .
ZipCar is a car-sharing service that allows users to purchase memberships and reserve cars to drive themselves around the city. The company decided to cancel its contract with UI in spring 2021, citing operational and supply shortages.
"Due to global supply chain and operational shortages, we had to make the difficult decision to relocate our two-car fleet at the University of Iowa to other markets," reads a ZipCar statement provided by Chelsea Nemec, executive. account senior at a communications company associated with Zipcar.
Iowa City Associate Director of Transportation Services Mark Rummel said the city's Zipcar fleet started with six cars and now only has two. The partnership peaked at 10 vehicles, he said.
"For nearly a decade, Zipcars were used by teachers, staff, and students for commutes and by the hour to run errands, go on day trips, or go home on the weekend," Ribble wrote.
The cars were parked in three different locations around Iowa City and the UI campus: Burge Residence Hall, the Iowa City Public Library, and Newton Road Ramp.
Through UI's partnership with ZipCar, students and teachers received discounted rates and enrollment incentives, Ribble wrote.
Iowa City Transportation Services also worked with ZipCar in hopes of decreasing parking demand and other auto problems in Iowa City, Rummel said.
"The idea was to have fewer cars on the road," he said. “You know, maybe the students wouldn't bring cars to campus because they didn't really need them. If you only need a vehicle once a week, or once every two weeks, you can use it as an alternative. ”
ZipCar attracted transportation services from UI and Iowa City even more because of its age limits, Rummel said.
"I'm pretty sure you can get [a membership] if you're 18 or older," Rummel said. "I think that was one of our impulses to go with Zipcar when we established the relationship, because many of the car rental agencies have to be 25 years old to rent the cars."
UI reached out through a Request for Proposal to find another organization to partner with after receiving news of the contract cancellation, Ribble wrote, but has yet to receive a response.
"In the future, we hope carpooling will come back to campus," he said.
Iowa City and ZipCar still have a relationship, Rummel said, and are trying to negotiate an increase in the number of cars in the area. In the future, he said, Iowa City might have a bike or scooter sharing program.
"Just providing as many opportunities as we can for people to move around as easily as possible is one of our goals," Rummel said.