On Sept. 1, Winona State University (WSU) officially launched Zipcar on campus in an effort to reduce demand for parking, decrease carbon emissions and offer students, faculty and staff a convenient, economical and environmentally friendly alternative to owning a car.

Three self-service Zipcars -- two Toyota Matrixes and a Toyota Prius -- will be available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cars are located in three dedicated spots near Kryzsko Commons and Sheehan Hall and are available to all students and employees aged 18 and over. Gas, maintenance, insurance and reserved parking are included in the low hourly and daily rates.

The partnership with Zipcar is part of the university's sustainability initiative, launched when WSU President Judith Ramaley signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007. Along with Zipcar, WSU will also offer a bike-sharing program this fall. Through the Purple Bike Rental Program, students and employees will be able to check out bikes, helmets and locks free of charge.

"Winona State University is committed to reducing its carbon footprint," said Ramaley. "Investing in alternative transportation is one facet of the university's overall approach to sustainability, and we're proud to partner with Zipcar to provide our community with a versatile alternative to personally-owned vehicles." Zipcar provides students and employees the freedom of car ownership – for errands, entertainment or road trips - without the associated cost and hassle of owning a car. Zipcar also eliminates hundreds of dollars in monthly transportation costs, saving members an average of $600/month or $7,200/year when compared with car ownership - money that can be put toward other expenses such as tuition and housing. The service also benefits faculty and staff who bike, carpool or ride transit to work, by giving them access to a car during the day if they need one.

Faculty, staff and students can join Zipcar for $35 and will receive a $35 driving credit for the first month of their membership. Zipcar members can drive for as little as $8 per hour or $66 per day on weekdays and $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends. Local Winona residents ages 18 and older can join for $75 ($25 one-time application fee and $50 annual fee). All members 21 and over will have access to Zipcar's network of more than 5,500 vehicles throughout the UK and North America.