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Zipcars give Mont Alto students more freedom

Program makes remote Penn State campus more appealing to prospective students

August 31, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Penn State Mont Alto students Garialdy DeJesus, left, and Gregoria Payano check out the new Nissan Zipcar Wednesday. For $8 an hour, PSU students can use the loaner car, which comes with gas and insurance.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

MONT ALTO, Pa. — Moving from Frederick, Md., to Penn State Mont Alto was a bit of a shock for 18-year-old Raven George.

But, the biggest jolt to her was not being within walking distance of a grocery store or a pharmacy.

"I walked five miles to the Rutter's in the rain (during Hurricane Irene) and I said, 'Never again!,'" George said.

That's why the freshman can't wait to get connected with Zipcar, which was showcased at Penn State Mont Alto's Involvement Fair Wednesday.

The campus has partnered with Zipcar to make it easier for the college's resident students to live on campus without a car, said Kristie Fry, Penn State's director of public relations and marketing.

"We are a campus that is located outside of walking distance to restaurants and shopping. We already provide bus trips for students (at scheduled times) to Walmart and other locations, but they can only go at those allotted times," Fry said. "So, now if a student wants to go on a weekend or at another time, they can borrow a Zipcar."

Of the 440 Penn State Mont Alto students who live on campus, Fry said the majority don't have a car and rely on provided transportation at set times.

"Access to a Zipcar allows them access to a lot of freedom. It's a service that we expect to grow," she said.

Students can have access to Zipcars 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week by going online to www.zipcar.com/psuma. They reserve online, let themselves in the car with their Zipcard and drive away.

Fry said Penn State students, staff and faculty can borrow one of the two Zipcars on site for a $25 annual membership fee ($35 in driving credit the first month) and hourly rates starting at $8 an hour.

The gas, insurance and maintenance are included in the price.

Fry said students must be 18 and older, have a driver's license for at least a year with no more than one moving violation to borrow one of two Zipcars on campus.

Students have access to a silver 2012 Nissan Sentra named Saucy and a silver 2012 Honda Civic named Calypso. The cars are parked in designated parking spaces in the commuter lot on campus.

Fry said Penn State Mont Alto is the only college in the Penn State system to have a Zipcar, and the only college in the area to have one.

Eighteen-year-old Gearet Fitzpatrick, of Kensington, Md., doesn't have a car on campus.

"It seems like a good idea," the freshman said. "There is definitely stuff off campus that it (Zipcar) would help you get to like Walmart."

Fitzpatrick said the dining hall closes early on the weekends, and Zipcar would enable him to go to restaurants in Chambersburg or Shippensburg.

"It would not make sense to use Zipcar to go home in, but for a couple of hours it's affordable. Eight dollars an hour isn't that bad."

Andrea Christopher, Mont Alto's director of student affairs, said Zipcar fills a student need.

"We have a lot of students who don't have personal transportation, because we attract from all demographics including a lot of students from more urban areas where they are used to having more public transportation which Franklin County does not have any of," Christopher said.

"It (Zipcar) really is exciting. If a student needs to run to Walmart or the mall or locally around Chambersburg or to Hagerstown for a couple of hours, and they take a few friends with them who are willing to share the costs, it's really pretty economical," she said.

Director of Enrollment Management Michael Harp said Zipcar is a selling feature for the college that will attract more students.

"For those students from Philadelphia and New York, this (Zipcar) makes Mont Alto more appealing to them," Harp said.

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