Zipcar Hourly Rates to Increase Next Semester

Zipcar, the Massachusetts-based car-sharing company with cars at Pomona and Pitzer Colleges, will increase its hourly rates for Pomona students from $7 per hour to $8 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2011, according to Richard Paisner, Zipcar’s Senior Account Manager for the university sector.

“It’s a slight increase,” Paisner said. “The great thing about it is it’s still much, much less than our standard market rates, so if you went to San Francisco or New York or Boston or any of our major markets, you’d see about 20 to 25 percent higher car costs.”

The rate for full-day rental will remain at $66 per day, Paisner said.

According to Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Smith Campus Center Neil Gerard, Zipcar had originally suggested a rate increase around fall of 2009.

“The college pushed back because we had already been in print—we had published the rates to the students,” Gerard said. “They acknowledged that and agreed to delay any raise, and now they’ve come back to us again.”

Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum said weekend rates could see an additional increase in the future. At the moment, hourly and daily rates for Zipcars at Pomona are the same for every day of the week, though several universities in Zipcar’s network have higher rates on weekends than on weekdays.

“They wanted to raise the weekend rates even more to match the rates at other Southern California locations to $9 per hour and $72 per day,” Feldblum said. “But they will hold off until the summer to do that.”

When asked about future rate increases, Paisner said it’s still up in the air.

“We’ll take a look at the market in the coming months,” he said. “The main thing is we want to make sure we’re offering a good program across the board … to make sure that if you have an internship in Los Angeles, that there are enough cars available for you, so you can get a car and go.”

According to Greg Winter, Zipcar’s Vice President of Communications, the decision to raise the rates was essentially “a cost of doing business thing.”

“We’re expanding in Southern California, and this business is very capital intensive,” he said. “We needed to make sure the pricing was a bit more uniform and bring Pomona up to some of the other colleges that we have, but part of it is just [that] we need this as part of our ability to expand.”

Winter pointed to other schools in Southern California, such as USC and UCLA, as examples of universities with higher rates.

“[At USC the rates] are $8 per hour and $66 for the day, and at UCLA it’s $9 per hour and $72 for the day,” he said.

The relationship between Pomona and Zipcar stems back several years, Paisner said. When asked about the attempted increase in fall of 2009, he said the company was able to work with the school to postpone the rate increase.

“Pomona is a longstanding partner of ours,” Paisner said. “We were able to work with the [college] and to work with Miriam [Feldblum] specifically … so that as [the rate increase] came in we weren’t saying, ‘Alright, here’s a brand new increase,’ and we tried to delay it as much as we could.”

Because the rate increase is meant to make Pomona’s pricing “more uniform” with other schools, according to Paisner, other colleges and universities will not experience the same rate increase as Pomona.

“Some of those are already in place, so that they have that standard university rate,” Paisner said.

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